Liberated Cristiano Ronaldo seeks to extend scoring spree
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has hit eight goals in two games playing more centrally for Real Madrid, aims to add to his tally against Granada on Saturday with coach Rafa Benitez saying his forwards are given flexibility to move freely.
Barcelona: Cristiano Ronaldo, who has hit eight goals in two games playing more centrally for Real Madrid, aims to add to his tally against Granada on Saturday with coach Rafa Benitez saying his forwards are given flexibility to move freely.
The striker put five past Espanyol in La Liga last weekend and followed up with a hat-trick against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday, leaving him two behind Real’s all-time top scorer Raul who netted 323 goals.
Real have won their last three games with 15 goals and none conceded following a 0-0 draw with Sporting Gijon in the opening match of the season.
Against Sporting, Ronaldo was pegged closely to the left wing but since then he has moved around more and in the last three games he played mainly as a centre forward.
“I speak with him (Ronaldo) all the time during and after training. We talk about tactics and about different ideas,” Benitez told a news conference in Madrid on Friday.
“(The forwards) know that they can move further forward or to the sides when they want so as to be more effective for the team. It is most important for the team to be balanced and also that defensively we work hard.”
There were rumours of discontent in the Real dressing room following the dismissal of former coach Carlo Ancelotti at the end of last season.
There was also talk of a rift with Ronaldo when Benitez said in an early press conference that the World Player of the Year was only “one of the top players” at the club.
However, the friction appears to be in the past and Benitez was adamant about Ronaldo’s value to the team.
“Cristiano is the most important player and we need him in order to win trophies.”
Meanwhile, Gareth Bale heads an injury list this weekend that also includes Sergio Ramos, James Rodriguez and Danilo but Benitez does not think the number sidelined is out of the ordinary.
“We don’t have so many and it is normal for a big team that is playing at a high intensity in different competitions to suffer injuries over a season,” said Benitez.
Bale suffered a calf strain and limped off in the first half against Shakhtar.
“I can’t say at the moment whether the injury will be two or three weeks but we are optimistic because it is not a big injury,” Benitez said.