MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane remains hopeful Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema can overcome muscle strains to face Manchester City in their Champions League semifinal, second leg on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
The tie is delicately balanced at 0-0 after a stalemate in Manchester in the first leg on Tuesday.
Ronaldo has missed Real’s last three matches, including Saturday’s Gareth Bale-inspired 1-0 win over Real Sociedad, due to a thigh problem.
Benzema came off at half time in the first leg suffering from a hamstring strain.
“In my head I hope and think that Cristiano and Karim will be fit and we will all be together,” said Zidane.
The Frenchman made five changes from the side that started against City in San Sebastian as he also rested Toni Kroos, Marcelo, Pepe and Dani Carvajal.
However, just as in last weekend’s comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2, Bale starred in the absence of Ronaldo and Benzema as his powerful header 10 minutes from time sealed Real’s 10th consecutive La Liga win.
“I am happy for him because he has had problems this season with injury, but when is fit you notice,” added Zidane
“We could have scored earlier in the first-half, but we had to work until the end against a difficult side.
“I am happy with the performance and to get three points once again.”
Victory moved Madrid temporarily at least to the top of the table, two points clear of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid who play later on Saturday.
“We have done our job, which is the most important thing,” continued Zidane.
“What the others do we’ll wait and see, but it doesn’t matter. The most important thing was to win today ourselves.
“If we hadn’t the league would have been a lot more difficult. Now we need to think about Wednesday.”