Rafa Benitez has refused to rule out resting Cristiano Ronaldo, and compared the forward to Real Madrid greats Alfredo Di Stefano and Raul Gonzalez.
Benitez was speaking in advance of Madrid’s Champions League opener against Shakhtar Donetsk and was asked about the Portuguese after his record-breaking five-goal haul in Saturday’s win over Espanyol.
“Rotate Cristiano? Rotations aren’t done on a whim but to reach the potential in the team,” he said, AS reports.
“We get it wrong sometimes. It depends on positions. It’s not the same for a full-back, who has to cover a lot of ground, as it is for a forward like Cristiano. It depends on the effort of the individual.
“Cristiano is excellent. He’s one of the best. I can’t say he’s the best because I’ve worked with some great players but today, he’s the best in the world.
“I never saw Di Stefano but they say he was a competitor. So was Raul, and Cristiano is like them.”
Benitez discussed in greater detail how he sees Ronaldo working with the likes of Gareth Bale as he continues to develop his Madrid side.
“They’re free, but we have actions where they combine. We’ve spoken to them about the moves they make. It’s on paper so they understand.
“Bale has speed and Cristiano goes inside to balance with James Rodriguez, Isco or Karim Benzema and that creates problems. We also want to use the full-backs.
“Isco? He’s a great player and what he has to do is work with dedication and intensity. It he took advantage of the quality he has and scored more goals it would be better for everyone.”