MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has played down the rift between his captain Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo before Saturday’s Liga derby at Atletico Madrid, saying on Friday that the two players had resolved their differences.
Spanish newspaper Marca reported on Thursday that tensions between two of Madrid’s senior players had risen amid the team’s inconsistent run of results, which includes defeats at Liga minnows Girona and Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League.
After Madrid were beaten 3-1 by Spurs at Wembley on Nov. 1 Ronaldo put their malaise down to selling the likes of James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata, a view Ramos rejected, describing the four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s words as “opportunistic”.
“Sergio is very clever, he can say what he wants and so can Cristiano, they’ve spent so long playing together and have won a lot of things together and it doesn’t mean anything if they disagree on something from time to time,” Zidane told a news conference on Friday.
“These things are sorted out internally and it is already fixed. There’s going to be no problem between Sergio and Cristiano. All I can say is I have two players who form part of the history of this club, they know what is at stake on Saturday and they respect each other a lot.”
Real and Atletico have 23 points in third and fourth place in the standings respectively, eight behind leaders Barcelona, and defeat in the derby, the first at Atletico’s 68,000 capacity Wanda Metropolitano arena, could torpedo their title hopes.
Zidane can call upon first-choice right back Dani Carvajal for the first time in six weeks, after the Spain international returned to training having recovered from a viral heart condition, and Luka Modric is also fit but Gareth Bale, Mateo Kovacic and keeper Keylor Navas are all out through injury.
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris