Real Madrid’s star striker Cristiano Ronaldo vowed on Wednesday that the faltering Spanish title holders would fight back in
2013 and played down reported tensions in the club.
Following captain Iker Casillas’s message of calm after the team dropped 16 points behind rivals Barcelona in the league, on Wednesday it was the Portuguese goalscorer’s turn to keep up appearances.
“It is difficult when a top team like Real Madrid that is used to winning finds itself not at its best level. It is normal that people get a bit more tense,” Ronaldo told a news conference.
“We have to admit that we are having a bad moment but I am sure this will be a good year. We are training well and so good things are sure to come.”
“That is not the most important thing right now… More important than that is to find the right way to keep winning”
Ronaldo on his future at Real Madrid
Weeks of rumours about splits in the club peaked on December 23 when coach Jose Mourinho dropped Casillas from the starting line-up away to Malaga – a game Real lost 3-2.
Mourinho insists that decision was taken on technical grounds alone and Ronaldo backed the Portuguese coach on Wednesday.
“The coach is the one who decides. We all have to respect his decisions,” he said.
Casillas was hoping to regain his place for Sunday’s match against Real Sociedad.
Ronaldo declined to comment on his own long-term plans with Real Madrid, which has not yet indicated whether it will renew his current contract beyond 2015.
“That is not the most important thing right now,” said Ronaldo, who is the third-highest scorer in the league this season with 14 goals.
“More important than that is to find the right way to keep winning.”
Rivals and La Liga leaders Barcelona had a boost on Wednesday with thier coach Tito Vilanova visiting the first-team squad at training for the first time since his throat operation last month.
“Vilanova, who is recuperating from the operation he underwent on December 20, came to the training ground and greeted the players who were working out there this morning,” Barca said on their website..
The 44-year-old needed a second round of surgery following an operation to remove a tumour from his saliva glands in November 2011. Assistant coach Jordi Roura has stepped in until he is well enough to return to work.
Some of the Barca players are playing for Catalonia in a friendly against Nigeria later on Wednesday and the club said goalkeeper Victor Valdes had pulled out of the match because of a foot problem.
Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Martin Montoya, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Cristian Tello, Marc Bartra and Sergi Roberto will join up with the Catalonia squad later in the day.
Vilanova was released from hospital on December 22 and began a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Club president Sandro Rosell said on Friday he should be back midway through January and would alternate work with his treatment.
Vilanova was sidelined for around three weeks in 2011 before returning to his job as assistant to Pep Guardiola and then taking over from his close friend at the end of last season.
Under his stewardship Barca have made a record-breaking unbeaten start to the league campaign and have a nine-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Their opening match of 2013 is at home to city rivals Espanyol on Sunday.