Reigning FIFA player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo will not feature this weekend when Spanish giants Real Madrid face Italian foes Inter Milan at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Ronaldo was left off the International Champions Cup 20-man roster announced Monday by Madrid. The move will finally give the Portuguese winger his first extended rest since last summer, and time to recover from a nagging knee injury many think affected his World Cup performance.
Manager Carlo Anchilotti will hope that his star is back to 100 percent when the La Liga (Spanish first division) season begins in late August.
Ronaldo isn’t the only Madrid first-teamer that will be unavailable. Seven of the team’s projected starting XI will not be in the squad at Memorial Stadium.
That also includes two World Cup finalists as Argentina’s Angel Di Maria is currently nursing a muscle injury, and recently acquired German star Toni Kroos is still in the process of making his way over from Bayern Munich. French striker Karim Benzema was also left off the initial roster.
Three other first-choice players — goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defender Sergio Ramos and attacking midfielder Luka Modric — are reportedly joining the team on Wednesday but are unlikely to be available for the Berkeley game.
World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez, signed today by Madrid after a reported £108 million transfer fee, will also not be available on Sunday.
Bay Area soccer fans will still get to see one of the best players in the world in Gareth Bale, as the Madrid winger had plenty of time to rest up with his home country of Wales not qualifying for the World Cup.
World Cup participants Pepe, Fabio Coentrao (Portugal), Isco and Xabi Alonso (Spain) will be available. Academy players and squad reserves will fill out the roster.
This is the second annual International Champions Cup, with Real Madrid winning the inaugural tournament last summer.
While the lack of first-teamer’s isn’t a shock considering the tournament’s exhibition nature and timing on the heels of the month-long World Cup, it will still be disappointing to fans who shelled out up to $300 dollars for tickets.
The competition will also include English Premier League sides Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool; Italian side’s AC Milan and Roma; and Greek giants Olympiakos. The championship match will be played at Sun Life Stadium on August 4.