Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insisted Cristiano Ronaldo has to learn to live with being substituted after sulking off the field visibly frustrated in the European champions’ 2-2 draw at UD Las Palmas on Saturday.
Zidane replaced the three-time World Player of the Year with Madrid leading 2-1 18 minutes from time, but an unhappy Ronaldo watched from the bench as Sergio Araujo equalized to ensure Real dropped points for the second time in four days.
“I have to take him off sometimes and tonight we did it,” Zidane said. “That isn’t going to change what we are going to continue to do.”
At the forefront of Zidane’s mind was Real’s huge UEFA Champions League clash away to Borussia Dortmund tomorrow.
However, Ronaldo endured a poor night in front of goal as he fluffed a great chance from Alvaro Morata’s cutback before halftime and fired straight at Javi Varas in the buildup to Madrid’s second goal.
“We have a game on Tuesday and I thought it was the time to take him off, 20 minutes from the end, thinking about Tuesday,” Zidane said. “I know he always wants to play and always wants to stay on the field, but I also have to think about the players, and for me it was best to rest and think about Tuesday.”
Ronaldo has completed 90 minutes just twice this season after he was also replaced early on his return from a knee-ligament injury against CA Osasuna earlier this month and missed the previous weekend’s win at RCD Espanyol due to illness.
Real’s lead over Barcelona at the top of the table now stands at a solitary point after they failed to bounce back from a 1-1 draw with Villarreal on Wednesday last week that snapped a 16-game winning streak in La Liga.
Of most concern for Madrid is their leaky defense, as they have now kept just one clean sheet in their past six games.
“Sometimes there are games like this where you have the chances to win and you don’t take them,” Zidane said. “I think there is a lack of concentration in the second goal. I have to analyze it, but I am not going to complain. Playing like this for 90 minutes we will be at the top of the league, I have no doubt.”
Gareth Bale had been the star member of Real Madrid’s front line most often sacrificed by Zidane this season as the Welshman was replaced in each of his previous three outings, but Bale looked back close to the form which saw him shine toward the end of last season and at Euro 2016, and believes Ronaldo will also need time to get back to 100 percent fitness following his two-month injury layoff after Euro 2016.
“He’s been working hard on his injuries since he came back,” Bale said. “He hasn’t had a pre-season like me and it takes a little bit of time.”
Bale is yet to score since the opening day of the La Liga season, but insists the goals will arrive if Real continue to create the number of chances they did in the Canary Islands.
“We’re not happy to lose four points, but if you look at the league overall we are in a good position,” he said. “You have to look at the positives. Of course we are disappointed, but we are still unbeaten. We are still creating chances and if we keep doing that we’ll score plenty of goals.”
In yesterday’s early kickoff, Valencia climbed out out the relegation zone when they came from behind to defeat CD Leganes 2-1 with goals from Nani and Mario Suarez at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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