Crisis, what crisis? Zidane calm as Real Madrid wait on Ronaldo for Eibar clash

Cristiano Ronaldo is an injury doubt for Real Madrid as head coach Zinedine Zidane dismissed talk of a crisis ahead of Saturday's trip to Eibar.

Madrid still have a game in hand on their title rivals but ceded top spot in LaLiga to Barcelona when they were forced to battle back to a 3-3 draw at home to Las Palmas in midweek after Gareth Bale was sent off.

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There was a similar feat of escapology in last Sunday's 3-2 win from 2-0 down at Villarreal – a result that came on the back of losing 2-1 to Valencia at the Mestalla.

Asked whether this constituted a crisis for a side who appeared to be running away with the league, having established a record unbeaten run after the turn of the year, Zidane told a pre-match news conference: "The word, for me, does not exist. It does not exist in football.

"You have the possibility every three days to get back to doing things better. It's not the best moment in the season with the last three or four matches we have played.

"We cannot stumble because if we want to win LaLiga you cannot lose many games. We are never going to look for excuses, we depend on ourselves in the sense that we know what we can get by fighting and working in training and in matches.

"It is a time when results are not what we expected but the important thing is to give one hundred percent and improve things. Within a season, this can happen.

"The positive thing is that we came back in the last two games, drawing the last game and winning in Villarreal. There are things we can improve – let it be tomorrow."

Zidane must do without the suspended Bale against Eibar, who are riding high in seventh position under Jose Luis Mendilibar, and will make a late call on star man Ronaldo after his late double spared Madrid's blushes in a frantic encounter with Las Palmas.

"Ronaldo is feeling some muscular problems," he said. "That's why he has not trained with us.

"The games are all important but the most important thing is that the player is well. We'll see what we're going to do with Cristiano."

The only member of the feted "BBC" frontline remaining is Karim Benzema but the French forward found himself on the bench in midweek after a run of poor form, with Alvaro Morata preferred by Zidane as the attacking spearhead.

Benzema's goal in last month's 3-1 Champions League win over Napoli – a result that preceded Madrid's current wobble – was his solitary strike in the past 10 matches.

Asked about the 29-year-old's plight, Benzema said: "I am satisfied with all my players, no matter what. I defend them to the death."

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