Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle today, in a bid to stop persistent inflammation in his ankle joint, the club announced on its Web site. Reports in Spain claim the Dutch striker could miss the rest of the Spanish league season, although he's expected to be available for selection for the Euro 2008 finals in June. Van Nistelrooy sustained the injury in a 2-0 loss away to Almeria, and has been used sparingly since then. His absence has coincided with a dramatic dip in form from the Spanish champion, which has lost six of its last nine games in all competitions; van Nistelrooy missed six of those games. He has scored 16 goals in all competitions this season.
Separately, Barcelona striker Ronaldinho will miss his second straight game as the Catalan giant heads to Valencia for the Copa del Rey semifinal second-leg. The circumstances of the Brazilian's latest injury are a mystery; he missed Barca's 2-2 draw with Almeria even though a scan showed no evidence of an injury. Later, the club's staff simply said Ronaldinho was suffering from "medical problems." The player returned to training on Wednesday, but failed to make the squad for the Valencia trip. Lionel Messi, Deco, Rafael Marquez and Giovani dos Santos are also injured.