Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury layoff could ruin Real Madrid’s 2013-14 campaign.
Real Madrid’s season started to stutter from the moment they lost El Clasico to Barcelona on March 23. That 4-3 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu brought to an end their 31-match unbeaten run and was a factor in Los Blancos losing their very next match 2-1 to Sevilla in Seville.
Three convincing victories followed – Rayo Vallecano, Borussia Dortmund and Real Sociedad were all dispatched by three or more goals – but on Tuesday they were almost knocked out of the Champions League.
Marco Reus scored twice in the first half at Signal Iduna Park to edge Dortmund close to a scintillating comeback in the Champions League quarter-finals that would have been accomplished had Henrikh Mkhitaryan not hit the post from a good position and Iker Casillas not being world-class again.
Cristiano Ronaldo made the bench for Real Madrid, but that was only because he was supposed to be an ‘Emergency Messiah’. He had been struggling with a knee injury he had picked up in the first leg against Dortmund last week and was among the substitutes just in case Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti needed him to make an appearance.
After the match, the Italian tactician claimed that the Portugal international will be fit for Madrid’s La Liga clash against Almeria on Saturday and Ronaldo himself urged everyone to be 'patient' about his problem.
And now it has been confirmed, however, that Ronaldo will not recover by this weekend - and not even by next Wednesday, when another Clasico is played out: the Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Mestalla.
'Medical tests performed on Cristiano Ronaldo have revealed an injury to the player's left biceps femoris muscle', reads a statement on the club’s official website. 'Pending a medical evaluation'.
In plain words, Ronaldo has suffered a muscle injury to his left hamstring and it has been suggested by Spanish sources that he will be out for at least two weeks - two weeks in which Real Madrid will take on Almeria at home, Barcelona in the Copa final and either Atletico Madrid, Chelsea or Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final first leg scheduled to be played on either April 22 or 23rd.
To say that this is a big blow to Real Madrid’s chances of accomplishing what had looked until late March a very successful campaign would be an understatement. In 47 appearances in all competitions this campaign, the 28-year-old has found the net 55 times and has provided 10 assists. And now he is injured, which puts Madrid in a very tough position.
Not that Real Madrid are a one-man team – a quick glance at their squad would throw up names such as Gareth Bale, Xabi Alonso, Angel di Maria, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric – but without their talisman, the Spanish giants are just not the same team: take their terrible performance in Dortmund, for example.
Madrid will ‘be fine’ against Almeria and even if they lose against Barcelona in the Copa final, it's not going to be a big loss – after all, with all due respect, it's nowhere near the status of the FA Cup. However, the first leg of the Champions League semi-final will be very tough without Ronaldo (whoever Real end up facing).
Ancelotti is one of the genuinely great football managers and a brilliant tactician. And he will have to come up with a solution on how to cope without his most prized asset for a very important match, a match that could end up wrecking Real Madrid's season.