Zidane hopes Ronaldo breaks scoring slump in Derby
MADRID, Spain (AP):
For Zinedine Zidane, the Madrid derby today is just what Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema need to break their scoring slump.
The Real Madrid forwards have been struggling in the Spanish league, with just two goals between them.
Ronaldo, while striking six times in the Champions League, has tallied only one in seven Liga appearances.
Benzema is having an even tougher time, with just two in 12 matches across all competitions.
"It's true that this is not normal, but they just need to keep training and keep trying as they have been doing," Zidane says.
"You don't need to tell Karim and Cristiano that they should train more, it's something they do. They will go out on the pitch and score, I am sure of it."
Over his career, Ronaldo has thrived against Real's crosstown rival, Atletico.
Ronaldo holds the record for the Spanish capital derby with 21 goals. He scored a hat trick in his last league visit to Atletico, the final derby to be played at the former Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Benzema's performances, however, have not been as impressive, with three goals in his last 14 league matches against Atletico.
Zidane says Ronaldo and Benzema focused on recovering their scoring form last week during the international break, when they stayed at the club.
"We have been working on it," he said. "What I want is that my players, my forwards, play well, and tomorrow is a good match for them to keep trying."
Their scoring droughts have contributed to Real's irregular season.
Real are in third place and level on points with Atletico, which is fourth after having trouble winning at its new Wanda Metropolitan Stadium.
Atletico is also counting on Antoine Griezmann having a breakout. The France forward has struck just three times in 13 matches in this camapign.
"(Griezmann) is the player who can singlehandedly decide matches for us," Atletico coach Diego Simeone says. "I have a good feeling ... we have yet to see the best of Griezmann."
Both sides need a victory to keep pace with leader Barcelona, which visits Leganes hours earlier.
If Barcelona wins, Real and Atletico will be staring at an 11-point gap by kickoff.