Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Ronaldo and Benzema join Bale in missing Sporting clash

Coach Zinedine Zidane said Cristiano Ronaldo was happy to claim his 100th European goal in Real Madrid's 2-1 win at 10-man Bayern Munich, but insisted the quarter-final is far from decided.

The rival, Sporting, have been struggling to show they belong in La Liga since the season started, so they look like easy prey.

If they can not, Europe's elite clubs will be lining up to offer the Spain star a permanent place in their first XI - because he is simply just too good to be on the bench.

Real Madrid are now six points above Barcelona, having played the same number of games.

"Bale? He's not going to be with us at Sporting, that's clear". For sure he has something, a bit of a bruise in his calf.

But sometimes, if you pay close enough attention to the faint but perceptible differences in an aging athlete's game, you can see the traces of senescence before it fully and irreversibly robs an athlete of their ability.

"We hope he is back with us in a short time. It's a muscular issue on the area he was operated on". We won't take any risks with him.

The game changed when Javi Martinez saw red for a second yellow card and the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brace to give Real an extremely precious victory. He has got to be calm and I think he is.

"He is in good form for the end of the season".

ZINEDINE ZIDANE admits Real Madrid are anxious about Gareth Bale after yet another injury setback.

"Benzema? He looks fine physically. Of course I am anxious as I don't like to have players injured, even more towards the end of the season".

"I don't know if it's envy, but Cristiano's numbers speak for themselves", said the Brazil defender, "It's hard to contemplate what he has done for football, and he is still playing at a very high level".

"Coentrao? Fabio's going to be with us". And yet in spite of these realities, this different, older Ronaldo is still the best player on maybe the best team in the world, the preeminent difference maker in a squad full of superstars, still one of the few denizens of the most rarefied stratosphere reserved for the super-elite.

"He's happy because he's training very well, without discomfort or anything". Doesn't matter if he plays 1, 30 or 90 minutes, he is always available to play and very focus in what he does. Even on the pitch, he's scoring more than just about anyone-though a tick off the pace of his usual, otherworldly standards. That's the DNA of this club, the history of Madrid.

"We are all happy when the end of the season arrives with important matches".

"Scoring in 53 consecutive games?" "We will be positive and hope that no other players get injured".

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