Zinedine Zidane believes Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Atletico Madrid proves the Real Madrid forward is the greatest player in world football.
The Portugal international was in sparkling form at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday night, opening the scoring in the 23rd minute with a deflected free-kick before doubling the lead from the penalty spot on 70 minutes. And he completed his hat-trick from close range six minutes later; the 39th time he has notched up a treble for Los Blancos.
Ronaldo has shared the Ballon d’Or with Lionel Messi for the past eight years, with the Real ace collecting the award in 2008. 2013 and 2014. And Bernabeu coach Zidane believes the former Manchester United star is a certainty to win the honour again this year, despite his Argentine rival also enjoying a successful season and helping Barcelona to the title last term.
“I’ve never had any doubts that Cristiano is the best,” said Zidane. “Tonight ends that debate, the Ballon d’Or will be for him. I had no doubt, and it is not the three goals he scored that will make me change my mind. He demonstrated it all last season, he demonstrates it every time. We expect a lot from him, but he is above everyone else.”
Barca were held to a goalless draw against Malaga earlier in the day, which means Real have now opened up a four-point lead over the champions after a dozen games. As for Atletico, they have now lost three of their last four matches and have slipped to sixth in the table, nine points off their neighbours, leaving coach Diego Simeone with some serious thinking to do.