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Real Madrid to take no risks with Ronaldo

Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo will play no part in Real Madrid’s home clash with Valladolid on Saturday as coach Carlo Ancelotti opts to take no risks with the Portuguese star’s fitness.

Ronaldo missed Wednesday’s 4-1 Champions League win against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu with a hamstring problem and, while he has now returned to training, Ancelotti believes now is the ideal time to give him a rest.

“He has had a scan and the muscle has completely recovered but he is not so comfortable. He has not trained much so we don’t want to take any risk because he has two weeks to work and prepare for the next league game,” Ancelotti told press ahead of Saturday’s meeting with a Valladolid side who are hovering just above the relegation zone in La Liga.

Ronaldo, considered the favourite to win this year’s Ballon d’Or, is suspended for the Copa del Rey tie against third-tier side Olimpic de Xativa next weekend and is unlikely to feature against FC Copenhagen in Madrid’s final Champions League Group B game on December 10 with the Spaniards already having won the section.

He is therefore not set to return until the trip to Osasuna scheduled for December 14.

Angel Di Maria is again set to start on the left of the Madrid attack on Saturday as Ancelotti’s side look to provisionally close the gap on leaders Barcelona to three points before the Catalans visit Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ancelotti believes that Gareth Bale has now integrated fully into the Madrid side.

The Welshman has scored five goals in six games since struggling in the 2-1 defeat to Barcelona at the end of October, that run including a magnificent free-kick against Galatasaray on Wednesday.

“I think the integration of Bale is complete. He is playing well at the moment, without problems,” said Ancelotti.

“He is scoring goals and linking well with the forwards. I see no problem with him. I think he can get even better.

“I think all the players realise that he has talent and helps the team.”

Meanwhile, four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi travelled to his native Argentina on Friday to continue his recuperation from a torn hamstring, his club Barcelona confirmed on Thursday.

Messi suffered his third and most serious muscle injury of the season earlier this month in a 4-1 win away to Real Betis and is not expected to return to action until after the La Liga winter break in January.

“Once he has finished the first part of his recuperation, Lionel Messi will travel on Friday to Argentina, as had been planned, to begin the second phase under the supervision of the club’s medical services,” said a statement on the club’s website on Thursday.

“Doctor Ricard Pruna and physical trainer Elvio Paulorroso will travel to Argentina in the middle of December to supervise the final part of his recovery from the injury. His progress is positive, as the latest tests carried out have shown.”

It is expected that Messi will return to Barcelona at the beginning of the new year with the Catalans hopeful he will be fit to face high-flying Atletico Madrid on January 12.

The Spanish champions have generally coped well without their injured superstar as they lead La Liga by three points from Atletico and have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League.

However, they slipped to their first defeat of the campaign in all competitions on Tuesday as they produced a dismal display in losing 2-1 away to 10-man Ajax in the Champions League.