Zinedine Zidane has backed Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon D'or 2016 despite the Real Madrid star being 'angry' with his struggling start to the season. Meanwhile, the French boss has confirmed that difficult trip to Alaves on Saturday (29 October) will still come too early for Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos and Casemiro but adding that the first two are doing good progress in their respectively rehabilitations. Furthermore, young Mariano and Dani Carvajal are also out of his 19-squad after the second was forced off during the midweek Copa del Rey victory over Cultural Deportivo Leonesa.
Ronaldo has only scored four goals in nine games this season after missing the first games of the campaigns due to the injury he sustained during the Euro 2016. The 31-year-old was even booed by some Real Madrid fans during the weekend 2-1 victory over Athletic Club Bilbao after he missed a number of chances.
Yet, the former Manchester United star is still the main candidate along Barcelona's Lionel Messi to clinch the Ballon D'or award following a season in which he conquered the Champions League before also winning the Euro 2016 with Portugal. Messi has already scored 14 goals despite missing some games due to injury but Zidane believes that his Real Madrid pupil should beat the Barcelona ace for the award.
"I know how it works, but above all what I've seen throughout the year. To answer your question what he did 2016 is there for all to see, not just as an individual but for the team. He knows that what h is doing is down to his own work and the work of those around him. He clearly deserves the Ballon d'Or," Zidane said in the press conference ahead of the game with Alaves despite admitting the player frustration about his current bad run. "He may be angry, that's normal, but he's not worried. He wants to score goals and that is normal. Cristiano Ronaldo is unique because of what he is doing. He has set his standards so high that if he doesn't score a goal... But these are things that he has to live with, he is phenomenal".
Newly promoted Alaves have been one of the surprising teams for the start of La Liga after they secured a draw at Atletico Madrid before beating Barcelona in their visit to the Nou Camp earlier in September. Zidane has thus urged players to not take anything for granted as the Basque side are also yet to lose a game at home this term.
"I'm expecting a difficult, complicated game. They are unbeaten at home and doing really well. We know how difficult the game will be and what we have to do is recognise how difficult it will be. If we bear that in mind and give the required level of concentration, as we have been doing recently, then things will be different. That is our thinking in preparation for the game," the boss added. "The players are aware that if we want something at the end of the season we have to do as we are doing now in every single game."
Meanwhile, Zidane confirmed that Ramos and Modric have step up their recoveries by returning to light training but failed to set an exact date for their returns. Yet, the boss confirmed that Casemiro's comeback is still far.
"The three of them have all made slight returns, Modric more so, " the boss confirmed. "Sergio started back just two days ago and he needs time. Casemiro is the same, things have to go slowly. He is doing well and we have to have patience. We will see how things go next week. Modric still isn't with the team. He is recovering and is doing slightly better. We are taking it one day at a time. Next week will be important and we have to have patience."
Furthermore, Carvajal has also been left out of his 19-man squad following his injury scare against Cultural. The Spanish right-back was replaced dizzy in the second half after suffering a concussion and will so be rested against Alaves despite later scans ruled out a major concern.