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Coach angered by Ronaldo 'wedding' distraction
Simon Baskett | February 19, 2005 11:29 IST
Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo believes the media interest surrounding Ronaldo's Valentine's Day engagement celebrations has damaged his team's preparations on the eve of crucial domestic and European games.
"I haven't liked what has happened this week because we have two very important games coming up," an irate Luxemburgo told a news conference on Friday. "People have been talking about everything except football."
Real, who are four points behind Spanish Primera Liga leaders Barcelona, host Athletic Bilbao on Saturday before welcoming Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League first knockout round tie at the Bernabeu next Tuesday.
"People should be talking about what a difficult team they are and how many goals they score, but instead they are talking about personal matters, like the 'wedding', about what players might leave the club at the end of the season and which ones are going to arrive.
"Instead, we should be thinking about the league and Champions League. As coach I don't think we've had the ideal preparation for two such complicated games."
Ronaldo was late to training on Tuesday and Wednesday this week after throwing a lavish party at a secluded chateau near Paris to mark his engagement to Brazilian model Daniella Cicarelli.
It also emerged that he had sustained an injury to his big toe during the celebrations.
He then turned up late to a book launch on Thursday at which an authorised biography of club president Florentino Perez was presented to the media.
The 28-year-old Brazilian and his fiancee brought affairs to a standstill when they arrived 55 minutes into the presentation at a luxury hotel in the centre of Madrid.
The club have fined Ronaldo for his tardy appearances at training but Luxemburgo said he had not yet made up his mind whether to play the Brazil striker in the Bilbao game.
"I'm going to think over what I should do but Ronaldo hasn't had a good week because he has trained very little."
Luxemburgo said Michael Owen was almost certain to start although he denied that his decision had anything to do with the England striker's remarks in the press that he was getting frustrated with spending so much time on the bench.
"I want to make it clear that if Owen does play it isn't because of what has been said in the newspapers this week. If he plays it will be because I think he deserves it -- players won't get a place just because they've been talking to the press.
"I refer to my own work before making my selection choices and not to the number of interviews a player has done," he said.