Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez has defended the club’s policy of continuing to allow Cristiano Ronaldo to take the vast majority of their attacking free kicks despite a woeful success rate.
Ronaldo has scored only twice in his last 85 dead-ball attempts on goal for club and country, according to Spanish soccer statistician Mister Chip.
Of those 85, 34 hit the defensive wall, 25 were saved, 23 missed the target and one hit the frame of the goal, Mister Chip said on his Twitter account (@2010MisterChip) during Real’s 1-1 La Liga draw at Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Ronaldo failed to score in La Liga for the fourth straight match for only the second time in his career and remains tied on 323 goals with former Spain striker Raul as Real’s all-time record marksman.
Real have a number of other players, including Gareth Bale, who are free kick specialists but Benitez suggested Ronaldo would continue to take them.
“When we practice in training he hits them well and I am confident,” Benitez said in an interview with Spanish radio broadcaster Cadena Ser on Monday. “He hits them quite well. I will tell them to make you a video.”
Benitez also defended his decision to substitute in-form striker Karim Benzema in the second half of the derby at the Calderon and said he would do the same again.
Benitez gained a reputation for caution during stints at clubs including Valencia, Liverpool, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Napoli and his introduction of midfielder Mateo Kovacic with 13 minutes left prompted accusations Real had squandered a chance to kill off their city rivals.
Atletico scored a deserved equaliser in the 83rd minute and substitute Jackson Martinez almost won the game late on but his shot was well saved by Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
“I would be angry too if the coach took me off,” Benitez told Cadena Ser.
“But I would react and try to score two goals so they don’t substitute me,” he added.
“I have quite a good relationship (with Benzema). He is a great player. I have not had any problem with him.”
Real’s next outing is a La Liga game at home to Levante on October 17.
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