MADRID (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo has accepted that he needs to rest more and that sitting out the odd game is in the interests of him and Real Madrid, coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday.
Real’s all-time top scorer has missed four of his team’s 15 league games this season, two more than in the whole of the last campaign, and he was a surprise omission from the squad for Wednesday’s King’s Cup game against Sevilla.
Zidane remarked last year that he would prefer Ronaldo to rest more after injuries forced him to miss vital games at the end of the season, although the Frenchman appears to have reached agreement with his talisman this campaign.
“We have talked about it, the only thing you have to understand is that he is a very intelligent player,” Zidane told a news conference on Friday ahead of Real’s league game at home to Granada.
“My thinking is that I want Cristiano to be in great shape come the end of the season. When you have 20 games in 70 days you have to rest once in a while. That’s how I see it and he thinks that way too,” the coach added.
“He always wants to play, but you can achieve things through talking. We want to win everything we have in front of us.”
The knee injury he sustained during the Euro 2016 final prevented Ronaldo from playing Real’s first two league games, while he was rested for the last match of the year against Deportivo La Coruna in preparation for the Club World Cup.
“He is a leader on and off the pitch, he always says something to every player, he is completely focused even when he does not play,” added Zidane of the four-times Ballon d‘Or winner.
“He knows that he has a very important role at the club, he has tremendous energy which he transmits to everyone else. He’s vital for the group, an authentic leader.”
Real top the La Liga standings by three points from Barcelona and have a game in hand. They will equal the Spanish record of 39 games unbeaten, currently held by arch-rivals Barca, if they avoid defeat against Granada.
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond