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Ronaldo-pendency? Zidane refutes Real Madrid need Cristiano's goals to win

14:39 BST 12/09/2017
Los Blancos manager does not think his team is dependent on the superstar, even if they have not been at their attacking best without him

Zinedine Zidane has rejected suggestions Real Madrid are dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo following a stuttering start to their defence of La Liga in the Portuguese star's absence.

Ronaldo was dismissed during the first leg of their Supercopa de Espana triumph over Barcelona and received a five-match ban for shoving the referee.

Madrid went on to win their first league game of the season in his absence, but that was followed by successive home draws with Valencia and Levante.

Ronaldo is eligible to feature in Wednesday's Champions League group-stage opener at home to Cypriot side APOEL, as Madrid look to get back to winning ways and begin the defence of their European crown in strong fashion.

CR7 16/5 for hat-trick v APOEL

Zidane was quick to insist there is more to his team than the Ballon d'Or winner, although he is relieved to have Ronaldo back for this game.

"You know who Cristiano is," Zidane told reporters at his pre-match media conference. "We cannot talk about a dependency, but I always want him to be with us.

"What interests me is that everyone can play. Cristiano brings not only goals, but is a leader as well and he always wants to win. He transmits that [to his team-mates]. We are all happy that he is with us.

"He's very focused on what he has to do. In addition, he is very happy to play again because it is what he likes, what makes him happy.

"And we are happy too, because he is mentally very well, physically very fine. I am very happy to see him on the pitch again.

"He's going to play tomorrow, but we're not going to have him on Sunday. I hope Sunday is the last game of the season that he is not here."