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Zidane claims Ronaldo is `best’ as Real out to start group stage with win over Apoel


Who is the best football player in the world right now?

If you’d ask Zinedine Zidane, the answer is easy: Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Real Madrid boss lauded the Real main man, saying the latter’s solid performance is inspiring his teammates to improve.

He uttered those remark as Real Madrid start their Champions League title-retention bid against visiting Apoel in Group H on Thursday.

Ronaldo won the coveted Ballon d’Or in 2016 and is tipped by many to keep that individual honour this year.

If he wins it again, the Portuguese superstar would draw level with Barcelona ace Lionel Messi as a five-time winner.

Zidane said he has no doubts about the 32-year-old forward bagging it anew.

“A great player, the best in the world, I am with wonderful football players and professionally also, because they always motivate (each other),’’ said Zidane during an interview. “He (Ronaldo) could say ‘today I will relax’, but he pushes others and makes them better.’’

With Ronaldo leading the charge, Zidane has enjoyed a successful reign as Madrid boss, winning LaLiga last season and the Champions League twice since succeeding Rafael Benitez in January 2016.

He added: “Seven trophies… there’s a lot of work behind [me], there’s a club, a team and an extraordinary backdrop,” he said of his glittering tenure. I prepared, I dedicated myself thoroughly to be able to say, if one day I train [the first team] ‘you have to be ready.’’

Zidane also said he is very happy with what he is doing. “The context is unique, I’m the coach of this team, so I really enjoy it because I know it’s going to stop one day.’’

Even as Ronaldo is out due to suspension, Madrid have drawn their last two Liga matches, at home to Valencia and Levante.

They shift focus to the Champions League this week as they launch their title defence against Turkish side Apoel at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Real Madrid are heavy favourites to win over the visitors. Their last two meetings against Apoel were in 2012 where they won 5-2 and 3-0 also in the Champions League.

A Real Madrid win pays 1.33, an Apoel upset win pays 45.00, while a draw pays 12.00.