Ronaldo will keep taking free-kicks – Ancelotti

The 30-year-old has missed his last 51 attempts from dead ball situations but will continue to remain first choice taker

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says he will persist with Cristiano Ronaldo as his first choice free kick taker despite his lengthy run without a goal from set-pieces.

The 30-year-old has failed to score with any of his last 51 free-kicks, with Gareth Bale proving more successful from dead balls, though Ancelotti insists he will continue to take them.

“It’s pretty clear. Cristiano takes the ones on the left of the goal and Bale the ones on the other side,” he said at Friday’s pre-match press conference.

The Italian came in for criticism after bringing off Isco for the more defensively-minded Asier Illarramendi in the 1-1 draw with Villarreal on Sunday but is adamant he has no regrets over the decision.

“I’d do it again. Illarramendi gave us more balance,” he added ahead of Saturday’s La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao at San Mames.

“I’ve talked to the players about this. A minute can be vital for the team to be able to win. It’s not a personal thing. I’ve heard people at other teams saying that the team is more important than anything. It’s the same for us. The players understand it.”

Madrid have also come under scrutiny for failing to match their prolific exploits towards the end of 2014 since the turn of the year and Ancelotti admitted it was a problem he has noted in recent weeks.

“We’ve lost a little bit of efficiency up front, we’re not playing as fast from the back and it’s harder to create chances when the team is so compact.”

Madrid remain two points clear of second-placed Barcelona at the top of La Liga and seven ahead of reigning champions Atletico, who sit a place further back in third.

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