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The Real Madrid defender has praised his team-mate as the world's best, but believes the emphatic victory over Valladolid shows they can manage without their Portuguese star

Real Madrid defender Pepe claims his club and international colleague Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world, but the team can cope in his absence.

Ronaldo was sidelined for the second consecutive game after suffering an injury in the 5-0 hammering of Almeria last weekend.

Despite his absence, los Blancos produced a formidable display to comfortably defeat Valladolid 4-0, with Gareth Bale netting a hat trick, and Pepe believes it demonstrates they can manage without their star man.

"Cristiano is the best in the world and we need him, but the rest of the team worked very well today. [Karim] Benzema, [Angel] Di Maria and Isco all had great games," he told the club's official website.

Real has been in fine form in recent weeks, scoring 18 goals in its last four games after an indifferent start to the season.

Pepe insisted the players are beginning to adapt to Carlo Ancelotti's tactical methods, particularly his high-pressing game.

"We started very well in this game, pressing the opponents high up the pitch making our job in defense much easier. We have very clear ideas, we are trying to do things well and the important thing is to continue this good form," he said.

The win has seen Real Madrid close the gap on the early frontrunners Atletico Madrid and Barcelona to only three points, though Barca plays fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

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