Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini will not worry solely about Cristiano Ronaldo after Real Madrid’s star forward was declared fit for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo missed last week’s goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium with a hamstring strain but has recovered to take part in training with Madrid since Sunday and coach Zinedine Zidane declared the three-time Ballon d’Or winner to be “100 per cent” fit.
Striker Karim Benzema will miss the match due to a hamstring complaint of his own, while holding midfielder Casemiro has a hip problem, but Pellegrini believes Madrid have plenty of means to worry his team outside of Ronaldo – a player he coached during his debut season in the Spanish capital in 2009-10.
Asked about Ronaldo’s probable involvement, Pellegrini told a pre-match news conference: “I would tell him to stop [rest] tomorrow.
“Cristiano will always be a different player – he scores a lot of goals and has throughout his six years here.
“But I don’t think Real are just Cristiano Ronaldo. We must work as a team, defending and attacking – not just against Ronaldo but against Real Madrid.
“Our motivation must be to reach a [Champions League] final, which we’ve never done before against a great team in a beautiful stadium.”
City have influential midfielder Yaya Toure available following a thigh problem but defender Pablo Zabaleta joins playmaker David Silva (hamstring) on the sidelines with a muscle injury.
Zabaleta was part of a much-changed City XI that suffered a chastening 4-2 defeat at Southampton on Sunday but Pellegrini was pleased to point to his side’s recent form on the road in Europe as a reason for optimism against Madrid, who are yet to concede in their Champions League home matches this term.
“We’ve done very well away, especially last season when we beat Roma in Rome and Bayern Munich away [in 2013-14],” he said.
“This season, especially in the quarter-final we had a very good draw against Paris Saint-Germain and we continued. We also beat Borussia Monchengladbach, Dynamo Kiev and Sevilla away.
“It is important tomorrow because the pressure in the Santiago Bernabeu is high pressure but I think we have the football and the personality to do well.
“From the very first minute we will try to have possession of the ball and to attack.”