‘Ronaldo uncomfortable as a 9, but…’

Hugo Sanchez doesn’t feel Cristiano Ronaldo is comfortable playing as a central striker but expects the Portuguese to succeed in the role.

Ronaldo’s goal against Eibar was his 234th for Madrid and drew him level with Sanchez in the all-time League scorer’s list, and Sanchez spoke to AS about the ex-Manchester United forward.

“I’m glad that a player like him, and a Madrid player, did it. It was a matter of time,” the former Mexico international commented.

“Ronaldo spends more time in the penalty area now. Maturity brings you these things. There comes a time when you don’t need to physically exert yourself and can save your energy. It happens to everyone and it is happening to Cristiano.

“I think it’s a strategy of Cristiano and of Rafa Benitez. I think they’ve looked for a solution to reduce the effort of the player and put him where he’s dangerous, like as a No 9.

“He seems a little uncomfortable in the fixed forward position, but his talent and qualities will adapt. He’ll do well.

“Strikers go through phases and it’s not as easy for him now as it was before. He benefits playing next to Karim Benzema.

“What I know is that Benzema has great talent, but he’s not a predator. He likes open spaces. Cristiano might have noticed his absence. In attack you need the predator and the talented one.

“Gareth Bale? He’s similar to Cristiano at a physical and technical level. He’s got the quality to play in attack but he’s different from Benzema.”

Sanchez, who played for Madrid between 1985 and 1992, having also represented Atletico Madrid and later turning out for Rayo Vallecano before a coaching career that includes Almeria, also touched on the man occupying the Santiago Bernabeu bench.

“Rafa and I are friends. We met when he was Coach at Castilla. We even thought about working together,” he revealed.

“We almost did. I went to Pumas and he was going to be my assistant, but then he was called to Tenerife.

“Madrid have to adjust to a few concepts. Historically, Madrid is attacking but also concedes goals. Benitez thinks about conceding few and the balance. And usually you can’t score so many goals if you don’t want to neglect your defence…”

Tags Cristiano Ronaldo Hugo Sanchez