Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane feels Cristiano Ronaldo is closing in on a fifth Ballon d’Or after setting the pitch alight with his superlative performances in the UEFA Champions League.

“Of course he's close to winning the Ballon d’Or.”

“It's all on his own merit and he's won lots already, but he's closing in on the next one. He's respected by everyone. By all the Real Madrid fans, the club, supporters and the coach. You either love Cristiano Ronaldo or you don't. There's no middle ground,” said Zidane at the pre-match press conference. 

The French manager delved into the relationship he shares with the 32-year-old, stating “I speak to him a lot. He knows himself very well and he knows that he's been playing more than 50 games a season up until now, but with the accumulation of all these games, now he has to rest a bit. I'm not the coach who is leaving him out, it's not like that. I chat to him a lot, as I do with all my players, and sometimes they have to rest if we want them to come into the closing stages at 100%. It's a case of dialogue with the players.”

Ahead of the tie against relegated Granada, Zidane expected the lowly team to make life difficult for his side adding that “Granada have nothing to play for and that makes it even more difficult. They're up against Real Madrid and they've got some quality players. We could say it's been a bad season because they've gone down but they're a team who have shown all year that they deserve to be in the Primera División. We're going to prepare well for the game and do the best we can.”

(All quotes are from www.realmadrid.com)