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Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo deserves more respect despite his lack of La Liga goals this season, says boss Zinedine Zidane.
Ronaldo, 32, has scored eight of Real’s 14 Champions League Group H goals to help the 12-time winners reach the last-16 as runners-up to Tottenham.
No player has scored more Champions League goals than Ronaldo, but he has just two La Liga goals this season.
“Write Cristiano off at your peril,” said Zidane.
‘He’s working hard until the goals start flowing again’
Defending champions Real host German club Borussia Dortmund at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
While the Spanish side have qualified as group runners-up, Dortmund, who are third in the group, need to avoid defeat to guarantee a place in the Europa League.
However, all the pre-match talk in Spain has been about Ronaldo’s lack of domestic goals as Zidane’s side trail leaders Barcelona by eight points in the La Liga table.
“We have to give Cristiano a bit more support and show more respect,” added the Real manager.
“He’s so good that when things aren’t going quite so well for him, people start to talk.
“The people who love him and Real Madrid know what he’s doing. He’s working hard until the goals start flowing again.
“Last season he did a phenomenal job. It’s a long season and we’re only halfway there.”
Bale could return on Saturday
The match has come too soon for Gareth Bale to make a comeback from his latest injury.
Welshman Bale, 28, returned after two months out and made two goals in Real’s 2-2 draw with Fuenlabrada in the Copa del Rey last week.
However, he missed last weekend’s goalless draw at Athletic Bilbao with a recurrence of a calf injury.
“He still hasn’t trained with us,” added Zidane.
“He’s out on the pitch doing bits, but not alongside the team.”
Zidane said Bale would “certainly” be travelling with the squad later this month to the United Arab Emirates for the 2017 Fifa Club World Cup tournament.
Sad times for Dortmund
It is only four years since Borussia Dortmund lost to Bayern Munich in the 2013 Champions League final.
Yet this season’s campaign in the competition has been a huge disappointment.
They must beat Real to avoid finishing winless in a Champions League group stage for the first time in their history.
Dortmund, who cannot advance in the competition, have arrived in Spain’s capital without Maximilian Philipp.
The winger, 23, is out for several months after he suffered a serious injury to his kneecap in Saturday’s Bundesliga draw at Bayer Leverkusen.
Dortmund will miss out on a Europa League spot if they lose to Real and Apoel Nicosia stop Tottenham from winning at Wembley.
- This is the 10th game between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League since 2012-13, more than any other fixture in the competition over that period.
- Dortmund are winless in their past seven Champions League games (D2 L5). Failure to beat Real would establish their longest ever run without a win in the competition.
- Real have won 21 of their past 24 Champions League group games at the Bernabeu (D3), last tasting defeat at home in October 2009 against AC Milan.
- Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has netted nine goals in his past 14 Champions League games. Against Real, he’s found the net three times in five outings.