Irate Zidane slams Ronaldo's long ban

Ronaldo (left) is banned for today's Super Cup second leg match, but Modric will be back for Real Madrid from suspension.
Ronaldo (left) is banned for today's Super Cup second leg match, but Modric will be back for Real Madrid from suspension.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Real coach hopes suspension can be reduced on appeal, not planning to buy more forwards

MADRID • Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane expressed his anger yesterday at the five-game ban handed to Cristiano Ronaldo for pushing a referee after being sent off against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup first leg on Sunday.

Real hold a 3-1 lead going into today's second leg against their fierce rivals, but will have to do without the World Player of the Year.

The Portuguese was controversially shown a second yellow card for diving on Sunday and handed an extra four-game ban for a light push on referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea after being shown the 10th red card of his career.

"We are very annoyed," said Zidane at a pre-match conference.

"I'm disappointed. All of us are disappointed. As always, I'm not going to get involved with the referees.

"But, when you see everything that happened… When you see he is not going to play in five games for us, something is up.

"It bothers me and it bothers all of us. It's a lot of games for him and that's all I'll say."

Real's appeal against the red card, which could reduce the ban from five games to four, will be held before the game today.

"The (appeals) committee will meet and I hope they look well upon it," added Zidane.

"Cristiano is annoyed because he wants to play and when he doesn't play, he isn't happy.

"I hope people are conscious of the decisions they make and conscious of the jobs they do but, in the end, five games… it's not worth five games."

Should Ronaldo's appeal not be upheld, he will miss Real's first four LaLiga games of the season against Deportivo La Coruna, Valencia, Levante and Real Sociedad.

However, Zidane insisted he is not desperate to add to his forward line before the transfer window closes on Aug 31, despite selling strikers Alvaro Morata and Mariano Diaz this summer.

Real have been linked for months with a move for Monaco's 18-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe, but look set to be beaten to the Frenchman's signature by free-spending Paris Saint-Germain.

The Real coach also warned against complacency in today's match.

"The Super Cup is not over. We have to play, and to play well," he said.

"It will be a very difficult game as they will come here very motivated to change the result.

"Barcelona are a good side that can hurt you, I have no doubt about that. In the first leg they had chances, so we must play a good game, as we did there, and play right until the end."

Real will welcome back Luka Modric after suspension while others such as Dani Ceballos, Marcos Llorente and Theo Hernandez could make their home debuts during the game.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will also likely make some changes with Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto set to get their chance, and it will be interesting to see if Gerard Deulofeu gets another opportunity to prove that he is worthy of replacing Neymar.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline 'Irate Zidane slams Ronaldo's long ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe