Football

Zidane: Show Ronaldo more respect

Real Madrid star will rediscover his 
scoring form soon, says coach

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has warned Cristiano Ronaldo's critics not to write off the Portuguese, who is expected to pick up his fifth Ballon d'Or this week.

Ronaldo has scored just twice in 10 La Liga matches this term as a stumbling start by the Galacticos has left them eight points behind leaders Barcelona.

However, Ronaldo leads the Champions League goalscoring charts with eight in five games and Zidane expects that form to soon return on league duty.

GROUP H
REAL MADRID DORTMUND

"He deserves more respect because he is so good that when things don't go as it used to, people start to talk about him," Zidane said ahead of Real's Champions League dead rubber against Borussia Dortmund.

"He will keep trying until the goals come. Not long ago, only last year, he had a phenomenal season. There is a long way to go, we are only nearly halfway through the season. Be careful with Cristiano."

With Karim Benzema also going through a lean spell, a lack of goals has blighted Real's season.

Until September, Zidane's men had scored in 73 straight games. However, they have drawn blanks in three of their last nine La Liga outings against Real Betis, Atletico Madrid and last Saturday in a 0-0 stalemate at Athletic Bilbao.

Zidane, though, rejected widespread suggestions, most recently from Valencia coach Marcelino Garcia Toral, that Real's squad is poorer this season for the loss of Alvaro Morata, James Rodriguez and Pepe in the off-season.

"It is true that we need to score more goals because, being eight points behind in La Liga, the situation isn't ideal," added Zidane. "But I am calm because I know that sooner or later that will change.

The European champions host Sevilla on Saturday before jetting off to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup and then face Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Dec 23. - AFP

EQUATION:

All that is left in Group H is a third-place contest between Borussia Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia. Spurs have qualified as group winners, while Real Madrid have sealed the runners-up spot.

Football