'I played worse sometimes' - Zidane defends Ronaldo from critics
ZInedine Zidane has defended Cristiano Ronaldo from criticism of his declining Real Madrid form, insisting "it used to happen to me".
The Portugal star drew a blank in the 2-1 Copa del Rey defeat to Celta Vigo on Wednesday and his all-round contribution to the side has been scrutinised in recent matches.
His coach is adamant that Ronaldo is accustomed to dealing with critics and says a drop-off in standards should be expected for any player at the top level of the game.
"Cristiano will always be criticised: when he does not score, when he plays in a different position... He's used to it. He's focused on the Malaga match and nothing else," Zidane said on Friday.
"He's always going to be the player who makes the difference for this team. Sometimes he can play worse, it used to happen to me. The important thing is to keep working."
0 - Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to score in a game against Celta at Santiago Bernabeu for the first time (13 goals in 5 games). Doubts-- OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 19, 2017
Zidane was more frustrated with the treatment of full-back Danilo, who was targeted by sections of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd during the loss to Celta.
"The criticism of Danilo is unfair," he said. "It's not so much the fans, who aren't only booing Danilo. It's especially what they write about him - it's not fair.
"He's a professional, he always gives 100 per cent. He can do better, of course, like everyone."
Madrid host Malaga in LaLiga on Saturday looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats with a win that would put pressure on Sevilla and Barcelona - both of whom play on Sunday - behind them.
"The good thing is that we have a game to change the situation. We've had little time to recover but we're ready," he said. "The dressing-room is fine, we're not worried.
"We're not going to go crazy. We're going to work to do things better. The only thing wrong against Celta was that they had two chances and we conceded twice.
"There's no such thing as not being able to lose any more. We'll leave this [40-game unbeaten] streak behind, with conviction. I'm under pressure but I was already when I joined this club. I'll always have it, until the last day I'm here. It makes me grow stronger every day."
James Rodriguez has once again been ruled out with a calf problem but Zidane expects the Colombia international to resume full training next week.
"James has a problem with his calf. We hope he can be with us on Monday," he added.