Ernesto Valverde dismissed talk of a Cristiano Ronaldo decline as Athletic Bilbao face Real Madrid this weekend and he ‘doesn’t want to make him angry.’
It has been suggested that Ronaldo is not the impactful player he once was but Valverde declined to agree, and rejected any difference this early between the Madrid of Rafa Benitez and the Madrid of Zinedine Zidane.
“I don’t see big differences between one Coach and another, not this soon. I just see Madrid,” Valverde told reporters, according to AS.
“Over time you’ll see a little of each Coach, because they’ve made changes.
“Their effectiveness at home is very important. They’ve scored 45 goals in their ground, an average of almost four per game, so we have to be very attentive.
“Cristiano’s decline? What is there to say? We play him, and you try not to mention anything so you don’t make him angry.
“He could score three or four goals in every game. It’s normal the season has low points, he’s always hungry to score…I don’t see many ups and downs.
“Those who are closer can have another opinion but when we face him there’s always danger in every play.”
Valverde also commented on evergreen Aritz Aduriz, who turned 35 on Thursday but has become more prolific as he has aged.
“There are always cases like this but…it’s more difficult for a forward,” Valverde acknowledged, having cited a goalkeeper as another example of a player who improved in his later years.
“His case is special, for his position and for the time that has gone by. There were times he was a back-up, and he’s gotten better every day.
“Professionalism and confidence mean that whenever the ball goes near the penalty area, all his intuition means he gets close to a goal.”