Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has come to the defence of Cristiano Ronaldo following his sub-standard start to the season.
The 2017 Ballon d’Or winner has scored eight La Liga goals this term, an unusually low tally for Ronaldo as Madrid have faltered in their attempts to retain their league title.
Madrid are currently fourth in the table after 21 games, 19 points behind rivals Barcelona who are steamrolling their way to the title.
Despite his poor return in the league, Ronaldo has scored 20 goals in all competitions and Zidane believes the Portuguese will be determined to improve.
“Maybe because of that [lack of goals], he is more motivated than ever before and keen to show what he can do,” he told reporters.
“He has always proven himself and turned up in the big matches.”
The Frenchman also defended his decision to sub Ronaldo off after Madrid’s 2-2 draw with Levante which saw the Spanish champions twice surrender a lead.
“No. It was planned to change him, and that’s all,” he stated.
“We had the game under control, the most difficult is to score goals. We got to 2-1, but in the end, two mistakes cost us the two goals.
“This year is being difficult for us. We cannot put three or four results together. I am not happy with the result. We were in control of the game, above all the first half, so not happy, of course.”
Ronaldo’s downturn in La Liga form
Nine goals in 17 La Liga games so far this season has Ronaldo currently on course for his lowest goalscoring return since he joined Madrid in 2009.
An average of 0.48 goals scored per 90 minutes this season, Ronaldo’s most prolific year came during 2014/15 when he scored 48 goals at a rate of 1.40 per 90.
His poor goal return has come for a lack of trying, however, averaging 6.81 shots per game though the Portuguese has hit the target 48% of the time – his lowest accuracy.
Ronaldo has also struggled to contribute to his teammates, with just 0.18 assists per 90 this season.
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