Cristiano Ronaldo Sits Out Champions League Quarterfinal, But Gareth Bale In Lineup

Cristiano Ronaldo will not be on hand to help insure that Real Madrid advance to their fourth-straight UEFA Champions League semifinal. The Portuguese superstar and world’s highest-paid footballer was a scratch from the lineup Tuesday afternoon as Los Blancos prepared to face 2013 runners-up Borussia Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Germany.

Ronaldo is still nursing a knee injury suffered in last week’s first-leg showdown at the Santiago Bernabeau, a match which saw Real Madrid fire three into the net, one off the boot of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 3-0 victory all but guaranteed that Real Madrid will eliminate Dortmund from the Champions League, no matter what happens in Tuesday’s match. The German Bundesliga side must defeat the Ronaldo-free Madrid side by four goals to get through to the final four.

And in fact, in Real Madrid scores a goal on Dortmund’s home turf, the German team must win by at least five, due to the away-goals rule.

Scoring a goal is a good bet with Gareth Bale in the lineup. The Welsh full-back, acquired for a record transfer fee of about $143 million in August from Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, was also thought to be doubtful for Tuesday’s match after suffering an injury in a league match Saturday.

But Bale rallied and will be on the pitch for the Tuesday battle in Germany.

Nonetheless, a game without Cristiano Ronaldo is always a more difficult affair for Real Madrid. The 29-year-old Ronaldo leads the Spanish team with 45 goals in the 2013/14 season, across all competitions.

“Cristiano always wants to play and I want him to play, but he is a professional and knows when he can’t,” said Carlo Ancelotti, the Real Madrid manager, before making the final decision to keep Cristiano Ronaldo in streetclothes for the Tuesday Champions League quarterfinal.

The Ronaldo injury was one in a wave of injuries to strike top European players during last week’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg. Gerard Piqué and Diego Costa of Bareclona both left their game hurt, as did Paris St. Germain superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in addition to the Cristiano Ronaldo injury.