Real Madrid legend Raul has defended Cristiano Ronaldo in the wake of his underwhelming start to the season and believes the Portugal international is well aware that more is expected of him.
Ronaldo has averaged more than a goal per game since joining Madrid from Manchester United in 2009, but he has netted just four goals in nine appearances in all competitions this term.
The 31-year-old cut a frustrated figure in his side’s 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend, but Raul sees no reason for panic just yet.
“We should be proud of what Cristiano has been doing. He scores 50 goals per season. I struggled to hit 20,” Raul told Cadena Ser.
“He has a great personality and is very hungry for success. He is more critical of his own performances than anyone else. He always wants what is best for the team and is very demanding.
“All his team-mates like him and respect him. I know because I had the opportunity to play alongside him.”
Ronaldo is among the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or this year after making France Football’s 30-man longlist and Raul thinks it will be the prolific attacker’s year after his Champions League and Euro 2016 glory.
“I think Cristiano will win the Ballon d’Or,” he added.
“I think it will be between Cristiano, [Lionel] Messi and [Antoine] Griezmann. They would make up a nice podium.
“The Champions League and Euro 2016 are hugely important and that is why I think it is Cristiano’s year.”