Benitez: I won't take Ronaldo off free kicks

The Real Madrid talisman has failed to find the net from a set piece so far this season but the coach insists he will not put James Rodriguez or Gareth Bale on them ahead of him

Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez has stressed that he has no intention of stripping Cristiano Ronaldo of his free-kick duties despite his underwhelming record from set pieces.

The Portugal international scored just twice from set piece 33 attempts in La Liga in 2014-15 and has yet to find the net from a free kick this term after six shots.

Ronaldo once more failed to hit the target in the 1-0 win over Granada on Saturday, yet Benitez continues to back his star man.

“We practice free-kicks in training every now and then and Ronaldo finds the net plenty of times,” Benitez said at a press conference.

“You have to believe in him and know that he will eventually score more goals from free-kicks again.

“Of course, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale can also take free-kicks, but they were not there against Granada.

“We all believe in Cristiano.”

Madrid hit 20 shots on Saturday, though scraped to the win through Karim Benzema’s goal in the second half and Benitez feels his side have to be more effective going forward, though he is pleased with their defensive record.

“I would have liked to have scored more goals but we must give credit to Granada,” he added. “Five official matches without conceding a goal is good, the team deserves credit.

“We had clear chances to decide the game, but we did not have loads because Granada had a great game. 

“We have been very strong in defence. But we have to improve. We cannot afford to give away two or three chances. We lacked movement and precision.

“Keylor Navas has done very well to solve any problematic situations. That he has kept five clean sheets means he has been doing a lot of things very well. But we must keep on working to improve.”

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