Portugal And Cristiano Ronaldo Should Thank Zidane For World Cup Form

Cristiano Ronaldo has been sensational at this summer’s World Cup (so far).

He produced a majestic performance as he scored a wonderful hat-trick to get a draw with Spain in Portugal’s opening game and then he followed that up with a superb header that downed Morocco this afternoon.

That’s seen the forward already leading the scoring charts with four strikes to his name.

For once the superstar seems to peaking just in time for a World Cup.

Cristiano is obviously a very, very gift footballer and he has a lot of god given ability. He’s also an extremely hardworking professional, who looks at every detail of his life and does everything necessary to make sure he can be one of the best players in the world.

But I also think Ronaldo’s recent great form has a lot to do with his former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane.

It’s sometimes hard to forget that the Portuguese attacker is actually thirty-three years of age, yet Zizou was always aware that his star player was ageing.

That meant that the French boss had to manage and coach his biggest talent properly. That’s not always the easiest of tasks, just ask Jose Mourinho.

Yet Ronaldo could relate to Zidane. He knew that the forty-five year old coach had been through the exact same issues and could relate to him.

On Zidane’s part he could explain to Cristiano that it was important to the club and the player himself that he was used more sparingly at certain times of the season.

Instead of going for every title and award, it was important to get the right ones. That meant that the forward would take less notice of certain things like the Pichichi top-scorer award and concentrate on being fully fit for the season’s run-in.

When you look at Ronaldo’s form last season, he scored 43 goals in 42 games for Real. Now that’s still phenomenal but in terms of league goals he was eighth top scorer in Europe’s top leagues. Interestingly before the winter break he’d scored seventeen times, yet he would score twenty-seven times after the break.

Zidane also helped Ronaldo to change his style. He was no longer asked to do it all on his own, others were asked to put in a shift while the forward stayed up-front. He’s also become more of a poacher and finishing more from inside the oppositions penalty area than he did before.

Those relatively small changes have helped him stay fresh for the huge games when they come about towards the end of the season. It’s why Real Madrid have won the last three Champions League titles, Ronaldo topped the scoring charts in that tournament this year with fifteen goals in just thirteen games.

Discussing his management of Ronaldo, Zidane said:

“I speak with Cristiano all the time and I know him very well,”

 “He knows that until now, he played 60-70 games a season and the accumulation of all those years meant he needs to rest a little.”

“I’m not the coach that has made him rest, all I know is that players need to rest, especially if they want to arrive at the final stage of the season in top condition.”

That understanding and philosophy has worked wonders when it comes to keeping Cristiano Ronaldo at his best for the biggest occasions.

Portugal are certainly seeing the benefits of Zidane and Ronaldo’s working relationship this summer, and they should be very thankful!

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