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Mourinho pondering leaving Cristiano on the bench

Far from being a storm in a tea cup, the discussion between coach and striker after the Copa del Rey game could escalate if Ronaldo is left out of the starting line up today.

After Ramos and Casillas... today it could be Cristiano's turn. Mourinho is wondering whether to leave his star striker Ronaldo on the bench after the row the two had in the dressing room after the cup match with Valencia on Tuesday. Having punished the two team captains this season by leaving them on the bench Real Madrid's coach is thinking of ratcheting up his disciplinary methods and applying them to the best signing in the club's history since Di Stéfano.

In actual fact this wouldn't be the first time Mourinho has punished Cristiano. He was left out entirely on 30 April 2011 against Zaragoza. Three days earlier he had criticised the decision to play him as a centre forward in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona: "I don't like playing there, but I have to adapt to what they ask of me". Madrid lost that game against their Catalan rivals 0-2. And Cristiano paid for his honesty being left out for the visit of Zaragoza, which he watched from the stands.

Without CR7 Madrid have won 65% of their games; that figure rises to 75% when he is on the pitch. For his part the Portuguese striker has decided not to add fuel to the fire and in his Twitter account yesterday insisted on the unity of everyone in the Madrid family to ensure a successful end to the season: "Thinking about tomorrow's game [meaning today]. Together we can do it. Hala Madrid".

If Mourinho leaves Cristiano on the bench tonight it will be the seventh time that has happened. But the first time he's done it as a punishment. Up until now it's always been to give him a rest or when he has been returning from injury. The star striker isn't often rested, as he wants to play every game. In fact last season he even started the Copa del Rey game that Madrid played in El Toralín, in Ponferrada against Ponferradina. This season Cristiano has only been on the bench for the second leg of the Cup tie against Alcoyano. On that occasion the tie was basically a dead rubber after the first leg, 1-4. Mourinho didn't play the Portuguese in the Bernabeu, although he had him on the bench. With Cristiano as a substitute Madrid have only lost one game in the Mou era, being their visit to Levante last season, when they lost 1-0, with Cristiano playing the second half.

Estadísticas AS.com