MADRID (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo will play no part in Real Madrid’s game against Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday after the prolific Portuguese forward was left out of the squad on Friday.
Midfielder Luka Modric and striker Karim Benzema were also omitted from the squad for Real’s final league game of 2016, with coach Zinedine Zidane opting to rest the trio before the team fly to Japan for the Club World Cup.
Benzema did not train on Friday after sustaining a knock in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund and Zidane explained the forward would rest against Deportivo “along with other players,” also revealing striker Alvaro Morata would start.
Zidane made no mention that Ronaldo, top scorer in La Liga with 10 goals, or Modric would not be in the squad but the two players’ names were absent from the list published after the Frenchman’s news conference ahead of the Deportivo game.
Real lead nearest challengers Barcelona by six points at the top of the standings and can set a new club record of 35 games unbeaten in all competitions if they avoid defeat by Deportivo.
Deportivo are 16th in the table but head to the Santiago Bernabeu on the back of thrashing high-flying Real Sociedad 5-1.
“It’s a dangerous game not just because of their last result but also their strange position in the league table when you consider how they are playing. It will be a difficult game but it’s our last of the year and we’ll be prepared,” said Zidane.
Real also lead the standings the last time they played in the Club World Cup in 2014 while Carlo Ancelotti was in charge, but failed to carry on the momentum after the winter break and surrendered the league title to Barcelona, who won the treble.
Zidane warned his side against making the same mistake even as they prepare to make club history by surpassing Leo Beenhakker’s side’s run of 34 games without defeat in the 1989-90 season.
“Many coaches have achieved great things here but the important thing is for us is to keep working as hard as we are,” the coach added.
“I am delighted with the players and their enthusiasm, we have a spectacular atmosphere but I know how quickly that can change so we have to look after it.”
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond