Cristiano Ronaldo returns from suspension for Madrid derby

Cristiano Ronaldo returns from suspension for Madrid derby

Published Feb. 6, 2015 8:33 a.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo will make a return to the Real Madrid side in the capital derby against Atletico, a match which midfielder Isco believes will be "a battle" from the off.

The Portuguese, who turned 30 on Thursday, missed the European champions' victories against Real Sociedad and Sevilla after his sending off at Cordoba.

His return will be most welcome for Carlo Ancelotti with his side missing key men for the crunch clash at the Vicente Calderon.

James Rodriguez is out after fracturing his right foot, while Nacho Fernandez and Rafael Varane are set to start at the centre of the Real defence with both Sergio Ramos and Pepe injured.


Marcelo is out after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, but Fabio Coentrao is fit once again and will replace the Brazilian at left-back.

Real face an Atletico team who have picked up 11 league wins in their last 14 matches and Isco is in little doubt that the league leaders will have a tough test on Saturday.

"Everything about the derby makes it special, the buzz it generates weeks in advance, the rivalry between the two teams," the midfielder told Mahou.

"We've been crossing paths a lot lately and it always has that special edge. There is no need to lose face at any moment. It will be a fiercely fought battle from the kick-off.

"We will try to do what we always do and hopefully we'll be able to come out with a good result. There are no favourites for a match at this level. We're both very good teams and we're in good form. We'll see what happens."

Atletico midfielder Koke has leapt to the defence of his side after they were accused of being too aggressive by the Spanish media.

Atleti defender Diego Godin hit out at the reports saying "this talk has to stop" and his feelings have been backed up by Koke.

He told Spanish newspaper Marca: "It bothers us when people say we're violent. What, because we play the game with intensity? It makes us laugh too. No one is going to change us.

"We can play good football too. We couldn't have won the La Liga title or reached the Champions League final if all we did was kick teams off the park. You have to be able to play."

Diego Simeone's side, who are seven points behind their city rivals, have a good recent record against the European champions, remaining unbeaten in their five contests so far this season.

"They're a great team. These runs come and go," Koke added. "They had an amazing streak against us, we broke it and now we have one going. Here's hoping we can prolong it.

"Real have strength in depth. We don't think about who's playing for them, we just try to have a go at them."