Ronaldo remains banned for Getafe trip
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Cristiano Ronaldo will not have his current three-game suspension lifted in time to face Getafe in La Liga on Sunday, so Gareth Bale and Jese Rodriguez are expected to start the match on each wing.
After Madrid’s initial appeal against the ban Ronaldo received after his sending off at Athletic Bilbao was rejected by La Liga’s disciplinary authorities, the club decided to take the case as far as Spain’s general committee for discipline in sports. This slow-moving body, an arm of the country’s government run sports council typically used to decide more important matters, is unlikely to rule before the three games have already been played. Marca says Madrid’s official appeal was made not in the hope of getting the ban lifted, but of forcing the authorities to admit a mistake had been made.
Ronaldo -- who scored two penalties as Madrid eased past Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday -- has reportedly begun a special programme aimed at topping up his general match fitness ahead of a return at Schalke in Feb. 26’s Champions League last 16 first leg.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti is expected therefore to again start Bale and Jese -- who both scored in last Saturday’s 4-2 La Liga win over Villarreal -- on each wing, with Karim Benzema recalled at centre-forward after getting a rest for Tuesday’s Copa game.
Alvaro Morata missed training on Friday morning, and Sami Khedira remains a long-term absentee, but otherwise Ancelotti has a fully fit squad to choose from. Angel Di Maria could come back in to replace Asier Illarramendi in midfield as the Italian coach looks to keep pace with Barcelona and Atletico at the top of the Primera Division table.
Centre-half Raphael Varane, who completed the 90 minutes in his first start since November against Atletico, is expected to be rested, but left-back Marcelo is fine to return after overcoming the back problem which saw him substituted against Villarreal last weekend.