Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo rested by Portugal ahead of El Clasico

Cristiano Ronaldo is to be rested by Portugal for this month's international friendlies against Russia and Luxembourg.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos has defended his decision to rest the Real Madrid forward, as well as a number of other senior players including Atletico Madrid midfielder Tiago and Monaco centre-back Ricardo Carvalho, for the games in Krasnodar on Fri, Nov. 14, and at minnows Luxembourg the following Tuesday.

Ronaldo, 30, has played the full 90 minutes in all 14 of Real Madrid's 14 La Liga and Champions League games this season to date. He featured in his country's first three internationals of the 2015-16 campaign, before being excused for October's final Euro 2016 qualifier against Serbia when Portugal had already qualified.

He is going to be heavily involved in promoting the documentary film "Ronaldo," which is being released worldwide on Monday, but will be refreshed ahead of the first Clasico of the season at the Bernabeu on Nov. 21.

Repeatedly asked about his captain's absence during the news conference to announce the squad, Santos denied that he was being treated differently to other senior players.

"Why do we just talk about Cristiano?" said an exasperated Santos. "Carvalho and Tiago were also captains, but you just talk about Cristiano, Cristiano, Cristiano and Cristiano. I understand this is the moment to manage the squad and I believe this is the right choice."

Experienced players who have been included in the 23-man squad are Monaco midfielder Joao Moutinho, Fenerbahce centre-back Bruno Alves and Madrid defender Pepe, who is named despite not having played for his club in over a month due to a muscle injury.

There are also places for Southampton defensive pair Cedric and Jose Fonte, as well as forwards Lucas Joao of Sheffield Wednesday and Nelson Oliveira of Nottingham Forest.

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo (Dinamo Zagreb).

Defenders: Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Cedric Soares (Southampton), Jose Fonte (Southampton), Eliseu (Benfica), Luis Neto (Zenit), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Pepe (Real Madrid), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient).

Midfielders: Andre Andre (Porto), Danilo (Porto) Bernardo Silva (Monaco), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Joao Mario (Sporting Lisbon), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Andre Gomes (Valencia).

Forwards: Goncalo Guedes (Benfica), Ricardo Pereira (Nice), Lucas Joao (Sheffield Wednesday), Nelson Oliveira (Nottingham Forest), Nani (Fenerbahce).