MADRID: Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo was described as “untouchable” by his manager Zinedine Zidane who confirmed the Portuguese will miss his first La Liga match of the season at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
The Spanish club’s all-time leading scorer, Ronaldo played all 34 league games and 10 Champions League matches in the campaign before straining a thigh muscle in the 3-0 win over Villarreal on Wednesday.
He sits out the Rayo game to ensure he will be fit for for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Manchester City.
“Cristiano is untouchable because his numbers demonstrate that, he deserves to be untouchable,” Zidane told a news conference on Friday.
“You always have to speak to the players, and you think that at times a player needs to rest, but he rests when he doesn’t play and he plays really well,” the Frenchman added.
“He wanted to play tomorrow but he knows he can’t. He felt something in the last game and now we have to bear in mind Tuesday’s game.”
Zidane said Ronaldo always wanted to play every game.
“He doesn’t have to rest, although when he plays lots of games together he is more tired. Cristiano wants to play and that’s something I really value and respect.”
Gareth Bale missed the Villarreal match through injury but the Wales forward will face 16th-placed Rayo.
Real are third in La Liga, one point behind Atletico Madrid and leaders Barcelona, after winning their last eight league games.
“It’s a difficult game on a small pitch against a team that knows how to play good football. They will put a lot of pressure on us, especially at the start,” Zidane said.
“We are focused and doing well, on a good run. Tomorrow three important points are available and we’re going to work for them.”