‘Ronaldo is Madrid’s Pau Gasol’

Rafa Benitez has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid’s Pau Gasol following the basketballer’s EuroBasket exploits for Spain on Thursday.

The 35-year-old fired La Roja into Sunday’s final, having netted half of La Roja’s 80 points against France, and the Coach believes his No 7 has what it takes to produce a similar impact on Los Blancos’ fortunes this season.

“Today we mixed things up a little. Nothing has yet been decided [regarding the XI for Granada],” he said at a Press conference prior to Madrid’s visit of Granada in La Liga on Saturday.

“It’s part of our strength that we all feel involved and I can change the team or keep the same system. It all depends on the players I have available.

“I understand [the theory that there’s more balance without Gareth Bale] in terms of tactical analysis, but not from a results perspective as we’re scoring and not conceding.

“It’s true that a different system can be a good thing. In fact, we’ve played some games when we’ve sacrificed a wide player and moved Cristiano [Ronaldo] into the middle.

“The team are scoring goals and balanced, but you can always hope for further improvement and, above all, the players absorbing your ideas, but it takes a while.

“[On asking Wales not to call up Bale], it’s hypothetical as [Bale has suffered] no serious injury and our players have recovered quite well from such injuries in the past.

“I could call the Wales Coach [Chris Coleman], but they have their interests and we have ours.

“[Raphael Varane] trained today, but our main objective is to win the game against Granada.

“We must decide on whether to make a change [in defence]. I have a balanced squad which can tackle any match.

“I spoke to [Ronaldo] as I do every day and discussed tactical issues with him. The forwards know they are free to move around, as long as they keep balanced.

“I know Mateo [Kovacic] well from Italian football. He’s a quality player, who connects with the attackers, but all our midfielders have sufficient quality.

“I want to congratulate all [of Spain’s basketball players] and hopefully they can win the [Eurobasket] final.

“Cristiano [Ronaldo] is our Pau Gasol. He’s our most important player and we want him to help the team win trophies. Gasol makes a difference and that's what Cristiano can do for us.

“[My squad] have a sensational attitude, and one of the things that most caught my eye was the players’ competitive edge. They want to win everything in their careers, even the training matches.”

Tags Cristiano Ronaldo Gareth Bale Pau Gasol Rafa Benitez