Cristiano Ronaldo is set to start Real Madrid’s final La Liga game of the season at Villarreal on Saturday, meaning coach Zinedine Zidane has his full squad available a week before the Champions League final against Liverpool.
Ronaldo has not played since suffering an ankle injury while scoring at Barcelona on May 6 but returned to training with his teammates earlier this week, as did right-back Dani Carvajal, who had been out for a month with a hamstring problem.
“Cristiano is at 120 percent,” Zidane told a news conference. “He is fine, training normally.
“I’m very happy to have all the players available. Some have had problems during the season, and to know that they are all ready to play tomorrow’s game, and also the final, they deserve it.
“It’s a pity when you have 24 players and some will be left out of the squad selection. I’m gutted about that.”
Ziane must decide whether Gareth Bale’s strong recent performances merit a starting spot against Liverpool.
“Bale is better, he is training well,” the coach said, suggesting that performances in training were the most important factor.
“When he scores goals, you could say he is better, but he is training well and the important thing is for them all to be good physically. That is what interests me.”
Zidane’s team will end the Liga season in second place should they win on Saturday and Atletico Madrid slip up at home to Eibar on Sunday.
“We’ve had a very good week, training well, with rhythm and speed,” he said. “It’s important to end La Liga well. Then we will have a week to prepare for the final.
“Liverpool and Villarreal have no similarities. Villarreal is completely different, they always play out from the back, which Liverpool do not.”
During Atletico’s celebrations after their 3-0 win over Zidane’s hometown club Marseille in the Europa League final in Lyon, Atleti right-back Juanfran Torres told supporters that they, not Real, ruled the Spanish capital.
But Zidane dismissed suggestions that the former Real youth team player had shown disrespect.
“The first thing is to congratulate Atletico for their achievement,” he said. “I like Juanfran, I’ve nothing to say on that — it was just a joke, that’s all.”
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan