Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says that whistles for Cristiano Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu are not a concern and his out-of-form player will soon be back among the goals.
Ronaldo, 31, had another difficult evening during Sunday’s 2-1 La Liga win over Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu, being whistled by his own team’s fans as he went a fourth straight game at home without scoring.
Zidane told a news conference that he himself had also been whistled at by the demanding Bernabeu crowd during his time as a Madrid player, and that the club’s all-time record goal scorer Ronaldo was “used to” such treatment.
“I don’t understand [the whistles],” he said. “But they also whistled me, I know it can happen. It means the Bernabeu is special, it demands the maximum. Cristiano is used to that, and is not worried about it. We know how important the fans are.”
Ronaldo has taken 20 shots at goal in his last two games at the Bernabeu, with just four on target, and has just four goals in total for Madrid so far this season.
“I spoke with him about other things, as that does not worry me,” Zidane said. “I want him to score two or three goals each game, but I am not worried as I know it will happen. He is not converting the chances, but the important thing is he gets them. Soon he will score them, and it will all be calmer.”
Asked about a replay of Alvaro Morata’s winning goal against Athletic, in which Ronaldo raised his arm and looked to the linesman in what some have claimed was an appeal for offside against his own team, Zidane laughed.
“We just think about our own things, what is going on inside,” he said. “There is so much external stuff that we cannot control and is not worth commenting on. The best thing is just to let it go and focus on what happens on the pitch.”
Zidane once again was asked whether it was right that he so often picked his “BBC” trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo when other younger, Spanish options such as Morata and Lucas Vazquez were impressing.
“You have been asking me this for the last five months at least,” Zidane said. “I have three phenomenal players. For me, they are very important for the team. The others might play less, but they are just as important. It is always like this, some players have much more time than others. People can have their opinions, but I have my job to do.”
Zidane did not reveal whether Ronaldo and other players such as Bale, Benzema and Toni Kroos would be rested for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey last-32 game at third-tier Cultural Leonesa — Madrid’s first game in the competition since last year’s expulsion for fielding an ineligible player.
“The system will not change much,” he said. “But there will be other players who will start tomorrow. There will be rotation. We can only bring 16 players, so some will have to stay in Madrid. But we know how important this competition is, and we want to win it.”
Back-up goalkeeper Kiko Casilla will start, it was confirmed, while left-back Fabio Coentrao is fit to make a first appearance of the season, with little-used forward Mariano Diaz also due to feature.
“Kiko will play tomorrow,” Zidane said. “Coentrao will be in the squad, which is important for us. He is recovered and doing very well. Mariano is with us too, he will be on the list. We are happy with what he is doing.”
Zidane said that injured midfielder Casemiro, who has been called into Brazil’s squad for their upcoming World Cup 2018 qualifiers, is not yet close to a return.
“Casemiro has had some tests, and the fracture is not yet closed,” he said. “The process must go on. He is feeling better every day, but is not yet recovered.”