Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Villarreal was marred by an injury to Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese star left the pitch in clear discomfort after attempting a bicycle kick in the closing stages.
There are genuine concerns that Ronaldo may miss next Tuesday’s Champions League game against Manchester City but if Zidane had his way, the 31-year-old wouldn’t have lasted the entire 90 minutes.
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Madrid had the game sewn up when Lucas Vazquez scored in the 69th minute but Zidane knows he can’t replace his star player, regardless of the score.
It’s a genuine concern for the Frenchman. With important games approaching, he can’t afford to risk Ronaldo suffering any injuries.
Yet the former Manchester United winger, currently in a competition with Barcelona’s Luis Suarez to win the Pichichi, doesn’t want to miss a single minute of action.
Zidane said after the game, per Marca: “With Cristiano, it is important to rest, but he always wants to play and do his best.
“Sometimes, for me, like today when he leaves the field, it is difficult. Let's see when he recovers.”
Madrid's #1 man
Before last night, Ronaldo, who left the game clutching his hamstring, had played every minute of Madrid’s 34 league games this campaign. He’s also started every one of their 10 Champions League fixtures.
But the three-time Ballon d’Or winner is Madrid’s most important player - he simply must play.
Ronaldo has been more disciplined in his defensive duties this season, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his manager.
“Cristiano is working very well for the team and he does more than just score goals,” Zidane added.
“Defensively today he was spectacular, the whole team was. We played a team that is very good in transition and they had no chance today.”
Back in the title race
Ronaldo has scored 47 goals this season and has played a crucial part in their recent turnaround.
Los Blancos were once 12 points behind Barcelona but now trail Luis Enrique’s side by a single point. They’ve been helped by Barca’s collapse, of course, but Madrid have capitalised by winning their past eight league games.
After Barcelona beat Deportivo La Coruna 8-0, and Atletico Madrid joined them on 79 points with a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao, Zidane’s team cruised to victory over Villarreal.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring in the 41st minute and the Frenchman turned provider for Lucas’s goal.
Luka Modric sealed all three points when he spectacularly turned in Danilo’s cross.
The title race is hotting up and, with four games remaining, Zidane knows his team are the in-form side.
“We are working well, the team now was great from the first minute tonight,” he added. “It was almost perfect, I'm very happy with the attitude.”