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Madrid must deal without Ronaldo

Real Madrid
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Ronaldo: Real Madrid players have more empathy for Zinedine Zidane

ESPN FC's Paul Mariner reacts to Real Madrid's comprehensive victory over Sporting Gijon.

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo says the team are happier playing under new coach Zinedine Zidane than they were under previous boss Rafa Benitez in the aftermath of Sunday's 5-1 La Liga win over Sporting Gijon.

Ronaldo scored twice, with Karim Benzema also notching a double, and Gareth Bale scoring before limping off injured, as a young Sporting side were easily dispatched at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

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Madrid have now scored 10 times in their two games since former Galactico Zidane replaced the more methodical Benitez in early January, amid a general feeling of liberation and positivity around the Bernabeu and the club generally.

The Portuguese told reporters in the mixed zone after the game that he could not say why things did not go so well during Benitez's six months in charge, but the players now had more "empathy" with their new manager.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated a brace in Real Madrid's 5-1 rout of Sporting Gijon on Sunday.

"Zidane has given a push to the team," Ronaldo said. "Sincerely, with some coaches you have more feeling than with others. As with the players, with people. I did my work naturally with Benitez, seriously, thinking in the best for the club, regardless of who was in charge of the team.

"I never had a bad opinion about Rafa, he always did the best for Madrid, he sees football in a different way to Zizou. Don't ask me why, but the players have more empathy with Zizou. Don't ask me why."

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