at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Madrid – The row between star striker Cristiano Ronaldo and under-pressure Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho this week will not affect morale at the club, defender Raul Albiol said on Saturday.
Ronaldo became the latest Real player to be targeted by Mourinho when the coach reproached him following the side's unimpressive 2-0 Spanish Cup quarter-final first leg win over Valencia on Tuesday.
According to an account published by the well-informed sports daily Marca, Mourinho accused Ronaldo in front of his team-mates of having gone into hiding in the final quarter-of-an-hour.
Ronaldo, who earlier in the season said he was unhappy but has since said he will see out his contract, retorted by telling his Portuguese compatriot he was being ungrateful and that 'I killed myself out there, it is not fair that you criticise me'.
Albiol, a rarely-used member of Spain's two Euro-winning squads as well as the 2010 World Cup, said that it would be quickly forgotten.
“The coach simply gave his opinion,” said the 27-year-old, who joined Real from Valencia in 2009.
“They are both highly competitive. Their disagreement will not affect their relationship, nor the atmosphere within the team.”
Albiol, who will face his former team in the league on Sunday, also refuted suggestions that the Spanish champions were in danger of imploding as they trail arch-rivals Barcelona by 18 points in the league and Mourinho having also fallen out with Real icons Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas.
“I really don't believe that whatever happens we will implode,” he said.
“We know we are not doing well in the league. However, there is still the Spanish Cup and the Champions League (where they play Manchester United).
“We have to remain united despite the problems we have had and which are normal at any club. We are responsible adults. We have to work together and as a result we should be able to achieve something.” – Sapa-AFP