Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is confident Cristiano Ronaldo will emerge from his current slump, having also felt the wrath of the Santiago Bernabeu faithful during his own playing days.
Ronaldo has only two goals in six LaLiga appearances this season and the Portugal superstar was whistled by sections of the home support when he took 11 shots without success during Sunday’s 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.
The 31-year-old was named on the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist on Monday and is favourite to land the coveted gong for a fourth time in his career, although he was overlooked at LaLiga’s 2015-16 awards night later in the day.
Zidane’s decorated career with Juventus, Madrid and France remains one of the most lauded in the modern era and, although the former midfield maestro was critical of fans booing his star player, he can call upon parallel experiences.
“I don’t understand the whistles aimed at Cristiano. They also whistled me,” Zidane told a pre-match news conference ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey tie against third-tier minnows Cultural Leonesa.
“The Santiago Bernabeu is a special place and fans demand a lot.
“Cristiano is used to it. The important thing is to keep working.
“Maybe Cristiano is not taking his chances now but at least he is getting them. He will end up scoring lots of goals. I am not worried about him not scoring goals.”
Long-term thigh injury victim Fabio Coentrao is back in the Madrid squad for a match where Zidane will understandably shuffle his pack.
“Coentrao will be in the squad list, he is an important player for us,” Zidane said of the Portugal full-back who is yet to feature this season having missed his country’s march to Euro 2016 glory.
“We are excited about the Copa del Rey tournament. We will do everything we can to win the Copa del Rey.
“There will be 16 players in the squad list tomorrow. There will be rotations. Many players will be rested and will not make the squad list.”
Zidane confirmed back-up goalkeeper Kiko Casilla will return to his XI against Leonesa after deputising for absent number one Keylor Navas during the opening weeks of the season.