YOKOHAMA • Cristiano Ronaldo is itching to prove why he deserved the Ballon d'Or by leading Real Madrid to another Club World Cup title, his coach Zinedine Zidane said yesterday.
The Portuguese forward, voted the world's best player for a fourth time earlier this week, will be leading Real's charge in Japan, where the European champions face Mexico's Club America in today's semi-final.
"Cristiano is hugely motivated for this game - as always," Zidane said in Yokohama.
"We have many great players at Real Madrid but it's very rare that one player wins so many awards."
Ronaldo, who closed in on Lionel Messi's record five awards, insisted that if he and Messi played for the same team, he would have scooped more accolades than his Argentinian rival.
"I think great players should play together," he told France Football. "If we were in the same team, I think I would have more (Ballon d'Ors) than him, but he wouldn't be far off."
Zidane, whose Spanish table-toppers are on a club-record 35-game unbeaten run, are looking to regain the world title they last won in 2014. But Club America coach Ricardo La Volpe promised his side would have no fear.
"We have quality in our team too," said the Argentinian. "I don't think Real Madrid are favourites. Yes, they are a great team, but we will play with our heart, look to be aggressive and take our chances."
Barring a huge upset, Real will face Kashima Antlers in this weekend's final, after the Japanese champions stunned Colombia's Atletico Nacional 3-0 in Osaka yesterday - helped by a first-ever penalty awarded by video referee.
Referee Viktor Kassai referred to the new technology following complaints from the Kashima bench that Daigo Nishi had been tripped on the half-hour mark.
Shoma Doi made history by converting the penalty. Yasushi Endo added a back-heeled goal and Yuma Suzuki ensured the Antlers became the first Japanese team to reach the tournament's final.
Video technology is being tested in Fifa competitions for the first time at the Club World Cup. It involves assistant referees monitoring television screens and relaying information on "match-changing decisions" to the officials during the game.