January 31, 2023

Zinedine Zidane delighted but cautious after Cristiano Ronaldo return for Real

September 10, 2016

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was delighted by the goal-scoring return of Cristiano Ronaldo in Saturday afternoon’s straightforward 5-2 La Liga win against Osasuna at the Bernabeu, while indicating the Portugal captain’s playing time would be managed now as he gets back to full fitness.

Making his first appearance since limping out of the Euro 2016 final in early July with a knee injury, Ronaldo opened the scoring on just six minutes, with defenders Danilo, Sergio Ramos and Pepe also finding the net for Madrid, as well as midfielder Luka Modric.

Newly promoted Osasuna were always up against it, but gained at least some pride with second-half headers from Oriol Riera and David Garcia, while Roberto Torres also missed a penalty for the visitors as the game lost all shape in the second half.

Ronaldo was substituted after 65 minutes in what was the first of seven games in 22 days for Madrid, who play Sporting Lisbon next at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night in the Champions League. The Blancos coach said the aim was for the 31-year-old to be on the pitch as much as possible, while keeping in mind the busy schedule the team now face.

“Like everyone I enjoy seeing [Ronaldo] on the pitch, I always want him with me,” Zidane said. “He played an hour today, we will see what happens on Wednesday. I have not negotiated anything with him about his playing time. It has been 60 days without competition — and now we have seven games in three weeks. So we must be aware of that.”

The game also saw Karim Benzema make his first La Liga appearance of the new season, returning from a niggling hip problem, and Zidane said his fellow Frenchman had shown well during a 25-minute substitute appearance in a withdrawn No. 10 role.

“[Benzema] did well, in a position a little different, a bit behind Alvaro Morata,” the coach said. “He did well for half an hour. I am happy with what he has done. He is ready to play 90 minutes, but we will see on Wednesday what we do.”

Zidane rotated his side through what was a club record 15th straight La Liga win on the bounce, maintaining their 100 percent record in 2016-17, and he indicated he would continue to use his deep squad through the coming weeks.
He said: “Today I did that, after the international break we had to think about the many games awaiting us. We have a very deep squad with many important players. Wednesday is another game, we will choose what suits for each game. We want to continue our good run and put everything into every game to win it.”

Modric was applauded off by the Bernabeu after a characteristically stylish showing in midfield, and Zidane said it was easy to coach the experienced and intelligent Croatia international.

“Luka, we know the player he is,” he said. “He does not need much information, he is doing well, has experience. I am happy for him, not just for today’s game, that ovation is for the work he has done before. It is deserved. I’m happy for him as he’s a great kid.”

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