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Zidane had planned to replace Ronaldo

Zinedine Zidane revealed he had planned to replace Cristiano Ronaldo during Real Madrid’s 4-0 La Liga win over Eibar on Saturday, but had to keep him on for the full 90 minutes after Jese Rodriguez suffered a knee injury.

Only Pepe, Casemiro and Ronaldo kept their places in the team as Zidane made eight changes in preparation of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Wolfsburg, where they will try to overturn a 2-0 deficit.

Ronaldo impressed, scoring once and setting up two more for Lucas Vazquez and Jese after James Rodriguez’s free-kick had opened the scoring at Santiago Bernabeu.

Ronaldo became the first player to net 30 La Liga goals in six straight seasons but Zidane was unable to give him a rest he wanted ahead of the crunch clash due to the late blow to Jese, who was replaced by Borja Mayoral.

“I initially planned on subbing Cristiano out around 15 minutes before the end, but Jese felt pain so we took him out instead,” said Zidane.

“But at the same time Cristiano is more than capable of playing for longer than 90 minutes.”

Zidane quickly turned his attention to the Wolfsburg match following the victory and insisted the whole club was united as they pursue a comeback in the tie.

“We know what we have to do,” he said. “We are two goals down and we are in a complicated situation, but we have the capability to come back.

“Our efforts must start with rest from this game and we will think about strategy on Monday. We are aware of the importance of Tuesday’s game. We know what we are playing for.

“There is plenty for us to do and it’s certainly not going to be easy. We know we are facing a huge challenge. The preparation starts now. It will be really important to start well against Wolfsburg.”

Zidane also sympathised with full-back Danilo, who was whistled prior to the match and when he was brought on as a second-half substitute following a poor performance in the first leg against Wolfsburg.

He said: “The Bernabeu has whistled all the players at some point. It can be disturbing but Danilo is a professional.

“Danilo is a good guy and we all appreciate him a lot. We have to forget about this little thing and focus on Tuesday. We don’t have to rally the fans, they know the importance of our game on Tuesday. They will be behind their team.

“We’ll see what starting XI we go for on Tuesday although it needs to be pointed out that Danilo was only subject to whistles at the start of the game. I’d have loved to see him score at the end.

“I have a big and talented squad, it isn’t always easy to decide the XI. For me, it’s incredible to have so many great players to choose from.”

Sat 9 Apr, 2016
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