Football: Zidane won't protect Ronaldo for Champions League final

Real Madrid's head coach Zinedine Zidane at a press conference after leading a team's training session on May 7, 2016.
Real Madrid's head coach Zinedine Zidane at a press conference after leading a team's training session on May 7, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists he will not wrap Cristiano Ronaldo in cotton wool for the Champions League final while the Spanish title is on the line.

Ronaldo returned after a three-game absence due to a thigh injury as Real sealed their place in the final against local rivals Atletico Madrid on May 28 in Milan with a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Wednesday.

Real trail La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by just a point with two games remaining. And with Gareth Bale missing for Sunday's visit of Valencia to the Santiago Bernabeu due to a knee injury, Zidane said he has no reason to rest star forward Ronaldo.

"I think he is going to play. I think he is in perfect shape," Zidane said on Saturday. "You are talking about preparing for the Champions League final, but the best way is to think about the games we have remaining.

"The first of those is important and he is going to play the two (league) games remaining."

Real will also be without goalkeeper Keylor Navas due to an achilles injury. However, French striker Karim Benzema and Brazilian midfielder Casemiro are in contention to play after missing the victory over City.