Even more attention than
usual will be focused on Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo
when the La Liga leaders play at Real Mallorca on Saturday after
his petulant reaction to whistling from disgruntled fans last
The Portuguese refused to celebrate his goal at the
Bernabeu, Real's fifth in a 5-1 thrashing of Granada and his
21st of the campaign, after a section of the home support again
expressed their frustration with his performance.
There appears to be a perception among some of the Real
faithful that the world's most expensive player can be too
selfish and that he is more concerned with personal success than
Coach Jose Mourinho and his team-mates have rallied behind
Ronaldo and he was given a resounding vote of confidence by
honorary Real president Alfredo Di Stefano in the 85-year-old's
latest newspaper column published on Thursday.
"We should support him because he could not put in any more
effort, he gives everything to the team," Di Stefano wrote in
sports daily Marca.
"The Portuguese is an example to follow and his success is
the result of a great deal of work," added the former Real
player and coach.
Real can stretch their lead over second-placed Barcelona to
eight points with a win in Mallorca, with the champions, who
drew 1-1 at local rivals Espanyol last weekend, not playing at
home against Real Betis until Sunday.
Barca's form at their Nou Camp arena has been almost
impeccable, winning eight and drawing one of their nine games
and scoring 39 goals without reply, but they have taken only 13
points from a possible 24 away from home.
Coach Pep Guardiola, whose side are chasing a fourth
consecutive La Liga title, said on Wednesday the team's patchy
performances on their travels could cost them the league.
"Away from home we don't have the numbers to be champions
and we must be more ambitious," he told a news conference ahead
of Barca's King's Cup last-16, second leg at Osasuna later on
"The reliability we have at home is harder to achieve away
but we're ready to fight for the remaining 63 points."
Valencia, four points behind Barca in third, host struggling
Real Sociedad on Saturday, while fourth-placed Levante, the
season's surprise package, play at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
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