Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti lamented 21-year-old forward Jese Rodriguez’s luck after he suffered cruciate ligament damage in his right knee during his side’s 3-1 win over Schalke on Tuesday.
Victory ensured Real’s passage into the quarter-finals of the Champions League 9-2 on aggregate, however it came at a cost as Jese will undoubtedly miss the rest of the season and is expected to be sidelined for at least six months.
Ancelotti, though, believes his own experience of suffering a similar injury at the same age as a player can help lift the Spanish under-21 international.
“He has had bad luck and it is bad luck for Real Madrid because we are going to lose a very important, young player who has done very well this season and surprised everyone.”
“Injuries are part of a footballer’s career and we are going to help raise him to comeback stronger next season.
“I had the same injury at a similar age and was still able to have a career. The instability is not good, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be all bad. We need to think positively. He will return to being an important player for Real Madrid.”
Jese’s injury meant that Gareth Bale was worked more than expected just five days before Sunday’s crucial La Liga clash with Barcelona as he was introduced after just eight minutes.
However, the Welshman looked very impressive as he was involved in setting up all three goals as Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to take his tally for the season in the Champions League to 13 before Alvaro Morata added a third.
FIRST HOME EL CLASICO
And Bale is looking forward to his first taste of El Clasico on home soil at the weekend.
“I have a lot of confidence and I am enjoying my football. I feel good and we need to continue like this because now comes the most decisive part of the season,” he told Real Madrid TV.
“Barcelona have great players, but so do we. It will be a very difficult game, but we are ready.”
Real could also be paired with Barcelona or local rivals Atletico in Friday’s draw for the quarter-finals and Ancelotti admitted that having three teams in the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition reflected the strength of the Spanish game.
“In the quarters there are the best teams. We will see what happens in the draw, but to have three teams shows that Spanish football is in good health.
“Tomorrow there could be a surprise if Olympiakos go through against Manchester United, but the rest are all the best teams and we know it will be a difficult quarter-final no matter who we face.”
Schalke boss Jens Keller, meanwhile, admitted that the tie had been a learning curve for his young side, but he praised their performance at the Bernabeu having been blown away 6-1 on home soil three weeks ago.
“I think the team reacted well and even the 19-year-old players we had out today performed well, whilst (Ralf) Fahrmann proved again that he can be a world class goalkeeper.
“I am a bit sad at the result, but I am pleased with the performance.”