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Ronaldo, Benzema doubtful for City clash

Published:Monday | April 25, 2016 | 4:06 AM
Real Madrid's Ronaldo

 

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Real Madrid head to Manchester City for tomorrow's first leg of their Champions League semi-final with dark clouds over Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Both star strikers, who have scored 74 goals between them this season, are nursing right-leg injuries.

Ronaldo strained a muscle in a win over Villarreal on Wednesday, ruling him out of Saturday's match at Rayo Vallecano -- that Benzema exited before halftime with a leg injury of his own.

Coach Zinedine Zidane said that Ronaldo, who trained on Sunday, will travel with the squad to England. Benzema is a bigger worry for the former France great.

"We're going to assess Benzema," Zidane said after Saturday's match. "All I can say is that it's not a knock. I hope that it's nothing serious and that he'll be available for Tuesday."

The 10-time champions have already found their saviour in case Ronaldo and Benzema have not fully recovered to face City.

Gareth Bale rose to the occasion when both his strike partners were out on Saturday, scoring two goals to lead a 3-2 comeback victory at Rayo that kept Madrid in the fight for the Spanish league title.

For Bale, Madrid have the "psychological" advantage of playing the second leg back in Spain.

"If we get a good result in the Etihad Stadium, back at the Bernabeu our fans are always going to help us," Bale said. "As long as we don't lose there, we'll be very confident at the Bernabeu."

Under former Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini, City are in fine form domestically in April. Besides a draw against lowly Newcastle, high-scoring wins -- 3-0 over Chelsea and a 4-0 rout of Stoke on Saturday -- are a reminder of City at their best.

Kevin de Bruyne has been the inspiration behind the revival, as a dynamo in midfielder since returning after two months out. The Belgian was rested against Stoke in preparation for Madrid.

"Now almost everybody is back and it gives us a different feeling," De Bruyne said.