Zidane won't rest Ronaldo as La Liga resumes
Real Madrid will welcome back Cristiano Ronaldo for his first appearance of 2017 as the European champions look to equal Barcelona's Spanish record of 39 games unbeaten when lowly Granada visit the Santiago Bernabeu tonight.
Ronaldo was rested as Real showed no signs of rust after a 17-day break since winning the Club World Cup to sweep aside Sevilla 3-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie on Wednesday.
The victory endorsed Real boss Zinedine Zidane's brave decision to leave Ronaldo out as he capped a dream debut year in charge at the Bernabeu with three trophies and just two defeats in 54 games.
"I won't rest Ronaldo. He will play on Saturday and he will play many games, there is no need to worry," said Zidane, who has succeeded where former Real coaches have failed in ensuring Ronaldo accepts missing certain games throughout the season to get to the business end of the campaign 100 per cent fit.
Another Real win would stretch their lead at the top over Barcelona to six points ahead of the Spanish champions' far trickier trip to Villarreal on Monday morning (Singapore time).
In contrast, Barca started 2017 with a 2-1 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie yesterday morning, despite the hosts being reduced to nine men in the second half.
- Eibar v Atletico Madrid (11.15pm)
- Las Palmas v Sporting Gijon (1.30am), Real Sociedad v Sevilla (3.45am), Athletic Bilbao v Alaves (7pm), Real Betis v Leganes (11.15pm),
- Celta Vigo v Malaga (1.30am), Villarreal v Barcelona (3.45am)
- Osasuna v Valencia (3.45am)
An immediate return to form is needed from Luis Enrique's men, but they won't have it easy against a Villarreal side that have lost just once at home all season. - AFP