Cristiano Ronaldo handed three match ban, available for Copa del Rey semifinal

David Ramos

After a sending off in Sunday's match against Athletic Bilbao, the Real Madrid striker will miss three La Liga matches - but will be available for Wednesday's Copa del Rey semifinal against Atlético Madrid.

Happy birthday, Cristiano Ronaldo! To celebrate your 29th year on earth, here's what you'll be given: a three-match ban. The Real Madrid forward saw a straight red in Sunday's draw with Athletic Bilbao, and will miss three La Liga matches: one for violent conduct in his altercation with Carlos Gurpegi and Ander Iturraspe, and two for disrespecting the match officials, with Ronaldo appearing to aim an inappropriate gesture at the assistant referee.

With Ronaldo already at 22 goals in the league, this spells bad news for his side. Real Madrid are currently third in the table, even on points with Barcelona and three points behind city rivals Atlético Madrid. With the La Liga race so tight this season, Ronaldo missing three matches could be the deciding factor in where Real finish. Fortunately for Real Madrid, fifth-placed Villarreal is the toughest competition to be faced during that time, with Getafe and Elche on deck.

A piece of good news as well: the ban being served out in the league means that Ronaldo is available for Wednesday evening's Copa del Rey semifinal, in which they host Atleti. Real are still the nominal favorites, but with Atlético Madrid topping the table, it's impossible to discount the visitors. Carlo Ancelotti will be relieved to know his star is available.

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