MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been left out of the squad to face Las Palmas on Saturday while captain Sergio Ramos and midfielder Isco will miss the trip to the Canary Islands due to injury.
Defender Dani Carvajal is suspended, while midfielder Toni Kroos and left back Marcelo have also been rested against Las Palmes ahead of Real’s Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Juventus on Tuesday.
Ronaldo, who played in both of Portugal’s international friendlies against Egypt and the Netherlands, has been excluded from a league away game for the third time in 2018 after also being rested against Leganes and Espanyol.
Coach Zinedine Zidane’s decision to manage Ronaldo’s game time to keep him sharp for the biggest games mimics his treatment of the Portuguese last season. A year ago the forward to hit peak form in the final stretch of the season as Real swept to a Liga and Champions League double.
Ronaldo has scored 18 times in the league in 2018, including plundering four goals against Girona in his last outing. He has now netted 22 league goals this season, three behind top scorer Lionel Messi.
Real are third in the Liga standings on 60 points, four behind second-placed Atletico Madrid and 15 adrift of runaway leaders Barcelona.
Midfielder Isco has been unable to train due to a back problem since scoring a hat-trick in Spain’s 6-1 hammering of Argentina on Tuesday and defender Ramos also missed practice the day before the game against relegation-threatened Las Palmas.
Isco has started only 18 of 29 league games this season and raised doubts about his future at Real after playing for Spain.
“At Real Madrid I don’t have the kind of confidence that a footballer needs,” he said.
Zidane, however, is not concerned.
“Everyone can interpret his words however they like but I’m not bothered by them,” the Frenchman said.
Zidane’s future at Real looked to be in doubt after his side’s limp defence of the title but his position appears stronger after beating Paris St Germain twice in the Champions League last-16 and winning seven of their last eight league games.
The former Real midfielder has won eight trophies in little more than two years in charge of the club and said if it was up to him, he would stay on beyond next season.
“My plan is to stay as long as possible and I have said that many times but at Madrid everything depends on results,” Zidane added.
“I’ve been here for 18 years and I know how Real Madrid works. But I like what I do and I am very keen to stay.”
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar