Real Madrid sweat over Ronaldo, Benzema’s availability in CL semis (Preview)

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Madrid, May 3 (IANS) Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has to make two important decisions ahead of his side’s Champions League semi-final return leg at home to Manchester City on Wednesday.

Zidane’s men are clear favourites to qualify following a 0-0 draw in Manchester a week ago, although an away goal from their rivals would complicate matters, reports Xinhua.

The Madrid coach rested key players in a La Liga match at the weekend and Marcelo, Serio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Tony Kroos should all be fresh for Wednesday night.

Zidane’s two decisions are whether to risk starman Cristiano Ronaldo who missed the first leg with a muscle problem, and striker Karim Benzema, who had to be replaced at half time as he struggled with a muscle injury.

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Ronaldo should be fit to start after training with his companions in the early part of the week, but Benzema’s presence is less likely though his importance to the side is unquestionable. It could be the coach’s option to play the in-form Lucas Vazquez.

Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini returns to face the club where he had coached for just a season amid a concerted campaign against him from the Madrid based press.

Pellegrini has selection issues of his own with David Silva out for the season with a hamstring injury and winger Jesus Navas also doubtful with a knock he picked up in the weekend defeat to Southampton in an English Premier League match.

Midfielder Toure Yaya, who missed the first leg with a thigh problem, could return and would give extra options to a side lacking in creativity, while striker Sergio Aguero will hope to see more of the ball than he did in the first leg, when City were on the back foot for much of the game.

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Hosts Bayern Munich face Atletico Madrid in the second leg match of the first semi-final on Tuesday.

By Wednesday both sides will know whether Bayern Munich or Atletico Madrid await in the final, which will only add to the tension given that Atletico are Madrid’s local rivals and that Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola will replace Pellegrini at City next season.



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