Ron­aldo a rare breed, says Zi­dane be­fore Ja­pan clash

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo is itch­ing to prove just why he de­served the Bal­lon d’Or by lead­ing Real Madrid to an­other Club World Cup ti­tle, Zine­dine Zi­dane said yes­ter­day. The Por­tuguese su­per­star, voted the world’s best player for a fourth time ear­lier this week, will lead Real’s charge in Ja­pan, where the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons face Mex­ico’s Club Amer­ica in Thurs­day’s semi-fi­nal. “Cris­tiano is hugely mo­ti­vated for this game-as al­ways,” Real coach Zi­dane told re­porters in Yoko­hama.

“He would be mo­ti­vated even if it were a friendly, that’s just the sort of player he is. “Ob­vi­ously we have many great play­ers at Real Madrid but it’s very rare one player wins so many awards,” added the French­man, whose side are chas­ing their sec­ond world ti­tle in three years this week.

“To win four Bal­lon d’Ors is a fabulous achieve­ment and it’s not an easy thing to do. What he’s do­ing is ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble­maybe he de­serves a fifth one too!”

Ron­aldo closed in on Lionel Messi’s record five awards af­ter a re­mark­able year in which he helped Real dom­i­nate Europe for the 11th time and pow­ered Por­tu­gal to Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship glory.

The 31-year-old tal­is­man, whose joy has been damp­ened by al­le­ga­tions of tax fraud, in­sisted that if he and Messi played for the same team, he would have scooped more ac­co­lades than his Ar­gen­tine ri­val. “It would be in­ter­est­ing to see both of us in the same team,” Ron­aldo told Span­ish me­dia.

“I think great play­ers should play to­gether. If we were in the same team, I think I would have more than him, but he wouldn’t be far off. “Every­one knows Messi is a great player,” he added. “He’s won five Bal­lon d’Ors.”

Zi­dane, whose Span­ish ta­ble-top­pers are cur­rently on a club record 35-game un­beaten run, is set to leave out captain Ser­gio Ramos against Club Amer­ica. “I don’t think he will play,” said Zi­dane, look­ing to bring Real a fifth world crown.

“It’s not a se­ri­ous prob­lem, he’s a bit fa­tigued af­ter the long flight and we don’t want to take the risk. We will rest him for the fi­nal.” Zi­dane, who is miss­ing Gareth Bale as the Welsh­man re­cov­ers from an­kle surgery, has warned his play­ers against over-con­fi­dence against a Club Amer­ica side cel­e­brat­ing their cen­ten­nial sea­son.

“For many of their play­ers maybe it will be their only chance to play against Real Madrid and I’m sure they will give us plenty of headaches,” he said. “I told the play­ers we can’t just turn up and ex­pect to win, we have to earn it.”

Amer­ica coach Ri­cardo La Volpe promised the Mex­i­cans would have no fear. “We have qual­ity in our team too,” said the fire­brand Ar­gen­tine, who fa­mously used to in­cur the wrath of FIFA of­fi­cials for chain-smok­ing on the bench.

“I don’t think Real Madrid are favourites,” added La Volpe, whose team beat South Korea’s Jeon­buk Mo­tors 2-1 at the week­end. “Yes, they are a great team but we will play with our heart, look to be ag­gres­sive and take our chances.” — AFP

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