Zinedine Zidane insists Cristiano Ronaldo is “untouchable” after the Real Madrid boss was grilled for his refusal to rest the forward prior to his injury.
Ronaldo pulled up with a hamstring strain at the end of Madrid’s 3-0 victory over Villarreal on Wednesday to rule him out of Saturday’s trip to Rayo Vallecano in La Liga and possibly the first leg of Los Blancos’ Champions League semi-final against Manchester City.
“He won’t play against Rayo. He’ll stay behind. We’ll see what he’s like for the game after that,” the Coach said at a Press conference.
“He wanted to play [on Saturday] but knows he can’t. He felt something in the last game, and now we must concentrate on getting him back for Tuesday's game.
“I still don’t think he would’ve played if it was a final [on Saturday]. It’s too much of a risk.
“It’s good to have a player who always dreams of wanting to help the team and gives more and more, but there’s good to take from the bad.
“[On Sergio Ramos’ backing for him to stay on as Coach], I must thank him because I played with Sergio and we’ve always had a good relationship.
“He is our captain and knows the club like I do, but we know we have to give everything and play well in order to win.
“We have tough matches coming up and we’re at home to Valencia, who are also playing well.
“We know what we have to do. We can’t rely on anyone else and we’ll try to win all our remaining games.
“[Rayo] are a very difficult team to play. They have a small stadium but are a team who can play, so that puts a lot of pressure on us and [Saturday] will be another very tough match, especially at the beginning.
“Still, we’re fine and in very good form, so what we have to do is continue [winning]. We’re going to fight [for the title].
“Cristiano is untouchable because he shows it. He deserves to be untouchable. Sometimes a player needs rest, but he rests when he’s not playing and when he does, he does so perfectly well.
“It’s not true I’m not playing [James Rodriguez] deliberately or that I see him in a bad light because James is an important player.
“It’s true there are 23 players and that I have to play 11. Then I can make a change during a game, but it seems we’re obliged to make all three.
“If I make a change because I need to change something, then yes. James is important and he did well and scored in the last game he played in.
“He wants to play more, of course, that I agree, but like everyone else there are times when you play less.
“The hardest part of being a Coach is when you have to make decisions.
“[On Paco Jemez accusing him of not having the necessary badges last season], I’m only focused on us playing our game and what I have to do.
“[Gareth Bale] is training well and has fully recovered. He’s available, so we’ll see [on Sunday].
“All of [Ronaldo’s possible replacements] are fine. I’ll choose a player who more or less fits his profile, but we have enough players.
“[Raphael Varane] is playing well, even in big games, always trains well and is always interested in improving.”