Ronaldo says winning Champions League would make it ‘incredible year’ for Real
Cristiano Ronaldo insists stuttering Real Madrid can still make it an “incredible year” if they manage to win the Champions League for a third-successive time.
Madrid enjoyed a record-breaking 2017, winning five trophies in a calendar year for the first time, but since lifting the FIFA Club World Cup in December things have gone awry for the Spanish giants.
The defence of their La Liga title is in tatters after falling 19 points behind leaders Barcelona, while Wednesday’s shock home defeat to Leganes saw them dumped out of the Copa del Rey.
That has left manager Zinedine Zidane under increasing pressure but Ronaldo believes Madrid can still make this a memorable season.
“If we can win the Champions League at the end of the year, it will be an incredible year,” he told Chinese football app Dongqiudi after receiving an award at Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground, as reported by Marca.
Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer has not given up on the possibility of mounting a league challenge either.
The defending champions are well adrift of Barca but do have a game in hand — against Leganes — and still have to play their arch-rivals at the Nou Camp.
“We haven’t started well in La Liga and we are disappointed, nobody is happy about that,” he added.
“But now we must work hard for the Champions League because it’s the most important trophy for us.
“It will be difficult in La Liga, but we can’t give up, even if we have dropped many points since the start of the season.
“The only solution is to keep working.”
Madrid became the first club to win back-to-back Champions League titles when they beat Juventus 4-1 in last year’s final but face arguably the toughest last-16 tie possible this term after being drawn against Paris Saint-Germain.
Zidane admitted following his side’s Copa del Rey exit that next month’s showdown with big-spending PSG could be make or break for his career in Madrid.
“That is clear,” Zidane said following the Leganes loss. “I am responsible for this.
“I’m the one who has to find solutions for the team to be more efficient.
“We have to think about getting up and keeping on working because on Saturday there is another game [against Valencia].”
Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, meanwhile, insists the players are always “the first ones to stand up” for their under-fire coach and warned against a change of management.
Ramos said: “I’m not a big fan of changes. We are the first ones to stand up for Zidane.
“To go out of the Copa del Rey is a failure. These are tough times, but we must be as united as possible and not throw the rest of the season away. You have to learn from bad moments.
“We are all responsible and we hope this serves some use in the future. We still have the Champions League.”