Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has hit back at Cristiano Ronaldo's critics after pointing out that he also had some bad games during his days as a player at the Santiago Bernabeu. Yet, the France boss has backed the Ballon D'or and the rest of his side to react from the consecutive defeats to Sevilla and Celta Vigo ahead of La Liga clash with Malaga on Saturday (21 January).
The Champions League winners remain at the top of La Liga table, one point ahead of Sevilla and two over Barcelona, and one game in hand. However, their flying start to the season has suffered two consecutive blows after they lost to Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey only days after they saw a 40-match unbeaten run end with a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla.
Ronaldo has been one of the players singled out by fans and media after he was able to score only one goal against the Andalucian's side from the penalty spot, while he struggled to make any impact against Celta in the number nine role.
"Ronaldo is always going to come in for criticism, but he is used to that. He is doing well and will always be a game changer for us. It is vital for us to keep up the hard graft out on the pitch. He always, always wins. The problems arise when he doesn't score because we are used to him being the sole player to make the difference," Zidane said in the press conference ahead of the visit of Malaga.
"He played as a centre-forward the other day because we put [Marco] Asensio and Lucas Vázquez in to give more space and send crosses in. We know how he has played his whole life. He is capable of playing anywhere but he prefers to play out on the left and that is not going to change. If he's in a different position, for example, maybe he won't play as well. It happened to me, and the important thing is to keep working,"
The Real Madrid boss, meanwhile, also came out in defence on Danilo, as the under-fire Brazil right-back is expected to be a key player in the coming games to cover the absence of Dani Carvajal.
"The treatment he (Danilo) is getting is unfair, especially what people are saying and writing about him. He is a professional and he always delivers. You can do things well or badly, but I think he is playing well. Obviously he has room to improve, but everyone does. I love seeing a player like him give 100% every single day," Zidane added. "We all want to see Danilo playing at his very best and he is working in order to do that. I think the fans will get behind him and the rest of the team. He has the support of his teammates and the coach. I have 1,000% faith in him because he is a player I really love."
Elsewhere, Zidane insisted that he is not worried about the recent two blows as he is convinced Real Madrid have what it takes to turn around the situation in the coming trip to Malaga.
"I am not worried, I think we are playing well," Zidane said. "As I said the first half was unusual and we looked a little off when we went into it, but looking back that wasn't really the case. We made a couple of errors and the opposition knew how to make the most of both of them. I'm not going to criticise anyone. You can think certain things after losing two games in a row, but In football it is consistency which helps you to improve. I'm not going to obsess over it. We will keep working hard and turn it around."
The France boss could make some changes in his line-up after the likes of Karim Benzema and Isco were rested against Celta. However, James Rodriguez, Dani Carvajal, Fabio Coentrao, Pepe and long-term absentee Gareth Bale will remain unavailable.
Yet, speaking about the Colombia international, the boss gave a positive update after revealing that he expected him to be back in training next week.
"He still has a few problems, but hopefully he will be back with us by Monday," the Real Madrid boss confirmed. "We have had to deal with a lot of injuries from knocks, but no real muscle injuries. I hope James can return to the fold on Monday. The doctors and physios are doing great work with the players who are still injured."