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Ronaldo among 5 Madrid players missing at Celta

May 10, 2014

MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo is among five regular players who will not feature against Celta Vigo as the Spanish giant appears to turn its attention to the upcoming Champions League final.

Midfielder Sami Khedira and defender Alvaro Arbeloa will be available after returning from long-term injuries, but Ronaldo and fellow forward Angel Di Maria plus defenders Pepe, Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane are all sidelined for Sunday’s match.

“I prefer not to take any risks. If tomorrow’s match was a final I would play him (Ronaldo) but it isn’t a final,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Saturday. “We’ve won a lot of games without Cristiano. Though he’s fundamental to our team, I prefer not to risk his health. He’s not 100 percent so we have to try and win without him.”

Madrid trails leader Atletico Madrid by four points with two games to play, but will need its city rival and second-placed Barcelona — which sits one point above it — to also falter to have any chance of winning a 33rd domestic title.

Madrid surprisingly drew both of its league matches after routing Bayern Munich 5-0 over two legs in the Champions League semifinal.

“It’s nothing new in football,” Ancelotti said of the dip. “We used up a lot of energy in the semifinal and we’re paying for it, so now we need to recover.”

Real has long been obsessed with winning its record 10th European Cup as it returns to the final for the first time in 12 years.

Despite the obvious drop-off since clinching its place against Atletico in Lisbon on May 24, Ancelotti insisted the club was not giving up on La Liga.

“As long as we’re mathematically alive, anything can happen,” the Italian coach said. “I’ll put out a team that intends to win.”

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