The coach says that the Portuguese can inspire his
team-mates to further glory, just like the two-time
NBA champion.

Rafael Benitez says that star forward Cristiano
Ronaldo is Real Madrid's version of Spanish
basketball icon Pau Gasol.

After failing to score in his first two Liga outings of
the new season, Ronaldo has returned to his
breath-taking best over the past week, netting five
times in last weekend's 6-0 triumph at Espanyol
before bagging a hat-trick in Tuesday's 4-0 win at
home Shakhtar Donetsk.

Ronaldo's treble at the Santiago Bernabeu not only
saw him move ahead of Lionel Messi at the top of
the all-time Champions League scorers' standings,
it also moved him to 321 goals for Real, meaning he
is now just two shy of Raul's club record.

Consequently, Benitez feels that the Portuguese
warrants comparison with Gasol, who is not only a
two-time NBA champion but also a two-time
Olympic gold medallist. The Chicago Bulls centre is
currently playing Eurobasket with the Spain national
team and scored 40 points as they defeated Tony
Parker's France on Thursday.

"Cristiano is our Pau Gasol," the Madrid boss told
reporters on Friday. "I hope he helps the rest of the
squad to win titles, as with any other outstanding

Even though Madrid are coming off the back of a
very positive week, the win over Shakhtar came at
a cost, with Gareth Bale picking up a calf injury,
Raphael Varane sustaining an ankle knock and
Sergio Ramos dislocating his shoulder.

While Varane returned to training on Friday, Bale
and Sergio Ramos will miss Saturday's Liga
meeting with Granada, joining James Rodriguez
(thigh) and Danilo (foot) on the sidelines.

Despite his side's injury problems, Benitez is
remaining upbeat, particularly as he is now in a
position to afford a first start to Mateo Kovacic, who
joined from Inter during the summer transfer

"We don't have so many injuries," he added. "They
are normal stats.
"The casualties are important but we have a lot of
quality in this group of players.

"We can reinforce central midfield or keep the same
system to replace Gareth Bale.
"Kovacic came on against Shakhtar because we
had more problems between the lines and he could
come in and help us this weekend."

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Posted By quadrihatic On 08:09 Fri, 18 Sep 2015

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