During the past two seasons, Cristiano Ronaldo has taken on a less demanding role within the Real Madrid side. Under Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano has accepted a new strategy designed to preserve his energies so that he is fresh and in peak shape for the decisive, final part of the season. The results of Zidane's conservation plan have been clear to see since it was put into practice last season when Cristiano really came into his own in the final run-in, hitting 16 goals in 10 games - 10 of them coming in five Champions League games.
You can't play every game
In today's edition of L'Équipe, it has been revealed how Zidane convinced Cristiano that at this point in his career, is when he should be saving himself for the most important part of the campaign. Cristiano was unable to complete the pre-season in 2016 after suffering a knee injury in the EURO 2016 final. On his return to Madrid to join up with the squad, Cristiano was taken aside by the coach and given some advice: If you listen to what I tell you and have belief in what I say, if you accept resting every so often, sitting out the odd game - if you don't mind doing that and believe me, you will prolong your career by a few years", Zidane told Cristiano.
It is working out just as Zidane promised. Last season, Cristiano was rested for most of Madrid's Copa del Rey games and sat out the occasional league game whenever there was an important Champions League game coming up. He ended the season going from strength to strength and helped the team win the double. This season, Zidane is reserving the No.7 again. He didn't play in the Copa del Rey at all, he was rested in the last league game against Las Palmas - like he was in February's games against Leganés and Espanyol. The plan is working to perfection again - he has scored in every Champions League game and is on 21 goals, scoring in 10 of the last 11 games.
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