Ronaldo eases pressure on Zidane

first_imgReal Madrid Here to stay? Ronaldo eases pressure on Real Madrid as players get behind Zidane Ben Hayward Last updated 1 year ago 01:41 1/28/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(49) Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates against Valencia Getty Real Madrid Primera División Valencia v Real Madrid Valencia Cristiano Ronaldo Zinédine Zidane Opinion The Portuguese struck twice from the spot for Los Blancos to seal a vital victory at Valencia as they look to rebuild after Wednesday’s Copa exit Real Madrid are back in business. Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Valencia 4-1 at Mestalla on Saturday and Los Blancos will take heart from a performance that shows that perhaps all is not lost this season.Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to Leganes in the Copa del Rey saw Madrid side crash out of the Copa del Rey on away goals at the quarter-final stage and was the latest embarrassment in an increasingly calamitous campaign for the current Spanish and European champions.Already 19 points behind Barcelona in La Liga, the cup competition should have been a priority for Real, but Zidane gambled and rested key players for the game against Leganes. The gamble backfired. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Cristiano Ronaldo was one of the senior stars left out for the cup clash and the Portuguese issued a rallying cry on social media after that defeat. “Cheer up team. Cheer up madridistas,” he wrote on Twitter. “We still have many battles to win.”With Villarreal, recent winners at the Bernabeu, just a point adrift in La Liga before this weekend, Madrid could ill afford to drop more points in the Primera Division and Mestalla – where only the Yellow Submarine had won of all the visiting sides this term – would be the first big battle for Real.Ronaldo, on target twice in the 7-1 win at home to Deportivo La Coruna last weekend, netted two more here to ease the pressure on his side and coach Zidane. Both were well-taken penalties after clumsy challenges by Martin Montoya, but the relief was tangible for Los Blancos.Not that it was easy after that. Valencia, so impressive in La Liga under Marcelino Garcia Toral this season, threw everything at Real and Madrid were holding on for dear life at times, with goalkeeper Keylor Navas in inspired form to keep the home side at bay.Madrid were playing with Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo in their starting line-up all together for the first time since last season’s 3-2 loss at home to Barcelona, but it was substitute Marco Asensio who fed Marcelo for the clincher with six minutes left. Toni Kroos then added another right at the end.Valencia Real Madrid scoreRonaldo, Marcelo and Kroos were all left out of the team to face Leganes on Wednesday and the surprise defeat and away-goals exit (after Real had won the first leg 1-0 at Butarque) was described as “the most ridiculous night in Zidane’s reign” by Marca.Up until the end of last year, everything had gone right for Zidane. The Frenchman had masterminded back-to-back Champions League crowns, a first Liga title for the club since 2011-12 and eight trophies in all. But his side’s poor form in La Liga and cup exit means he is now under huge pressure.The players appear to be up for a fight, though. Real rode their luck at times on Saturday, but it was their reslience that saw them through in the end. Ronaldo had said that they would battle, and battle they did.In an interview with Chinese media this week, the Portuguese also claimed he was happy at Real despite speculation he still wants to leave the club after problems in the summer, his ongoing case for alleged tax evasion and reported wrangles over a new contract.Cristiano RonaldoValencia celebrate against Real Madrid“I like living here,” he said. “I’ve been in this city since 2009 and I love the climate and the people. It’s close to Portugal and you can get there by car. Spain is a great country, I love it. Of course, I want to stay here, I love this club.”The Portuguese also called for more fight after recent disappointments. “Our goal is to win the Champions League, because it’s the biggest prize,” he said. “We haven’t been at the required level. I hope the situation improves and the only way of changing it is to work harder.”That will have been music to Zidane’s ears. Other coaches may not have retained the support of their players after such a dip in form and results, but the Frenchman remains a club legend from his playing days and has earned plenty of credit after leading Los Blancos to two Champions League crowns and six other trophies.Saturday’s win means Madrid are now just two points behind third-placed Valencia – and with a game in hand as well. Moving up La Liga will be the priority now and with Ronaldo firing again, there will be renewed hope of beating Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League too.But perhaps most importantly of all, the players are still behind their beleaguered coach – and the healing process has officially started. Onwards and upwards again for Real Madrid.last_img read more

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