Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo’s work ethic after the Portuguese collected the second Ballon d’Or of his career in Zurich on Monday.
Ronaldo beat off stiff competition from four-time winner Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery to claim football’s highest individual accolade.
And Ancelotti said he has been pleasantly surprised by his star player’s work rate during his first six months in charge of Los Blancos.
“His quality and ability to score goals hasn’t surprised me, but I have been a little bit surprised by his personality and the sacrifices he makes both on and off the field,” he said on Tuesday.
“There are many examples of players with great talent but without the consistency because they are not as professional as they could be.
“In modern day football, if you don’t work then you can’t show your talent. It is an indispensable combination.”
BALE BELOW PAR
In Ronaldo’s own ballot for the award he voted for teammate Gareth Bale as the world’s second best player in 2013.
However, the Welshman has struggled to make the same impact as Ronaldo since swapping the Premier League for La Liga.
Bale was substituted after an ineffectual display in Real’s 1-0 win away to Espanyol on Sunday.
But Ancelotti defended the 24-year-old and insisted he is still just lacking rhythm following a calf injury he picked up towards the end of December.
“In the last few games he didn’t participate much in the play, but that doesn’t mean that he is not integrated into the team.
“He had an injury and has recovered well. It is important for him to be in good shape physically to be able to show his talent.”
Bale is likely to be given another chance to impress as Real travel to face Osasuna in the second-leg of their last 16 Copa del Rey tie on Wednesday.
Madrid take a 2-0 lead from the first-leg into the game so Ancelotti is also expected to make a few changes with youngsters Asier Illarramendi and Jese Rodriguez to be handed rare starts.