Real Madrid's Rafa Benitez 'relaxed' over Cristiano Ronaldo
Rafa Benitez has said he and Cristiano Ronaldo are "adapting to each other" after reports claiming the Real Madrid forward was not happy with the coach.
Benitez took over at Madrid this summer after Carlo Ancelotti was sacked in May, though the former Liverpool and Chelsea coach has come under criticism for his tactics, the 4-0 Clasico home defeat to Barcelona, and for Madrid being thrown out of the Copa del Rey due to fielding the ineligible Denis Cheryshev against Cadiz.
Reports in the Spanish media have repeatedly suggested that Ronaldo is unhappy with Benitez's style, and the forward -- who has been criticised despite scoring 21 goals in 20 games this season -- told ESPN FC earlier this week that he misses Ancelotti and would love to work with the Italian again.
However, Benitez says his understanding with Ronaldo is developing, and remains confident of building a strong bond with the Portugal captain -- who scored four against Malmo in midweek -- as he prepares his side to face Villarreal on Sunday.
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Asked about his relationship with Ronaldo, Benitez told his prematch news conference: "My relationship with the dressing room is very good, even if there are people who say the opposite.
"Working together closely day in, day out allows the players to appreciate what the coaching staff are doing. We're getting to know each other and adapting to each other. That time spent together can only be beneficial for the team.
"I'm not going to go into his problems because he has already spoken on the matter. He always performs well for me and he's back scoring goals now. Now he's rediscovered his eye for goal I can relax because that will boost his confidence and help him to score even more."
Karim Benzema's lawyer has said he is confident the striker will play for France at Euro 2016 despite being suspended from the national team on Thursday, and Benitez backed Benzema and Ronaldo to keep up their fine goal-scoring run after facing criticism earlier in the campaign.
"They're two different cases, both players are really important to us," Benitez continued. "The two of them score a lot of goals. Karim scores goals and provides assists, although he's less prolific than Cristiano and we've been on at him to be more ambitious in front of goal, and that's exactly what he's doing. They both need confidence and we're giving them that."
Ronaldo, 30, scored 48 goals in 35 games in the 2013-14 season and won the Champions League under Ancelotti before the manager was sacked and Benitez was brought in.
Ancelotti, who has taken a year out of the game, has been linked with a move to Manchester United to replace Louis van Gaal, while Ronaldo's future has also been subject of speculation with his former club top of the agenda.
On the differences between the coaches Madrid have had, Ronaldo told ESPN FC: "It's always different. Not just those two coaches but all the coaches. When it was [Jose] Mourinho or Alex Ferguson, [Manuel] Pellegrini. Everyone has his own style, own system, and we still adapt.
"For example, now to Benitez's style. But I think I feel comfortable because most of the time I play my position, so for me it is not going to be a big deal. I feel comfortable anytime on the pitch. I play free always and I feel good.
"I just try to take the most important things of every coach. Not just Sir Alex Ferguson, but Pellegrini, Mourinho, Ancelotti and now with Benitez and the national team coaches too.
"I think everyone has different styles and different opinions. They are different people. So I just pick the best things of them. I am the player that I am today because of course the coaches helped me a lot."