Former Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster says that Cristiano Ronaldo's current position as a centre-forward makes it easier for opposition defences to control him.
Ronaldo has 13 goals in 15 games for Madrid this season, but has not yet hit the heights of previous campaign, and failed to find the target in poor recent Blancos performances against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and Sevilla in La Liga.
Benzema's recent fitness and off-field issues have meant coach Rafa Benitez has had little option but to play Ronaldo alone up top -- with little success.
Benzema looks set to return to the Madrid starting XI for Saturday's La Liga Clasico at home to Barcelona, and Schuster said in AS that moving back to the wing would benefit Ronaldo and give him more space to operate in.
"You make things much easier for opponents when you put Cristiano up top alone, because he has less space," Schuster said. "He needs something more, he is not so comfortable in tight spaces. That is what has been happening to him lately, when he is very alone among the centre-halves and without support."
Ronaldo's disappointing run of form has coincided with increased speculation over his future, with the 30-year-old saying he still loves Manchester United, while it has also been alleged that he has a difficult relationship with Benitez.
It has been been claimed that Ronaldo told Madrid president Florentino Perez "We'll win nothing with this manager" but Schuster said he did not believe this conversation took place, partly due to the education Ronaldo received earlier in his career at United.
"I have my doubts, I don't believe that happened," he said. "Cristiano is much more professional, more cooperative. I have never seen him take on a coach, not here or in other teams, he learned well from the English school. I don't believe this. We coaches always communicate with the players, and in some moments even talk tactics with the veterans. What is not nice is that it comes out of the camp."
The German won the 2007-08 La Liga title in his first season in charge at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but was sacked the following December with the team struggling and after commenting that it was "impossible" for Madrid to win a looming Clasico at the Camp Nou.
Benitez is also under pressure ahead of Saturday's huge game against Barca, and Schuster said that the ex-Valencia, Liverpool, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Napoli coach was now learning what life was really like at the Bernabeu.
"I don't know if Benitez is comfortable, I have not spoken with him, don't know him too well," he said. "In my experience, I know that big clubs like Madrid make you as a coach. Although you've had success before, the challenge at Real Madrid is much bigger. Other things happen to you, the pressure is constant. He has experienced many things but Real Madrid is the biggest in everything."