Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid players more appreciated by Zinedine Zidane

Cristiano Ronaldo says the Real Madrid players "feel more appreciated" since Zinedine Zidane took charge and he hopes the Frenchman stays in charge long-term.

Madrid endured a difficult start to the campaign under Rafa Benitez, who was sacked in early January amid concerns over results and questions over his relationship with the squad.

Under Zidane, they have moved within one point of leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in La Liga and will hope to book their place in the Champions League final when they host Manchester City on Wednesday, having drawn 0-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Ronaldo, who was among the players reported to have been unhappy under Benitez, said he is enjoying life under 1998 World Cup winner Zidane.

"I think we feel more appreciated under Zidane," Ronaldo told UEFA's official media. "We feel his affection. We know he's in a period of adaptation, but things have come together very quickly and I'm really happy for him.

"I always admired him as a player, and now as a coach as well, for how behaves, how he deals with the players. He's a coach who I would like to see stay at Real Madrid."

Zidane's tenure suffered hit its lowest point to date when Madrid lost 2-0 to Wolfsburg in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, but Ronaldo's hat trick at the Bernabeu secured a 3-2 aggregate win.

Asked where that ranks in terms of his greatest nights in the competition, the Portugal international said: "It was perhaps one of the most important games: we had to win by three goals and I scored all three, so it was a special night.

"It had to be perfect and that's how it turned out. It wasn't just because of my goals, I think it was everything. I think the team played very well ... and our fans as well, who played a very important role in the comeback. It was a brilliant night, a magical moment."

Ronaldo, who won the competition with Manchester United in 2008, had helped Madrid become European champions for a 10th time with victory over Atletico in 2014, when Zidane was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant.

Real could face Atletico again in this year's final at the San Siro, but Ronaldo -- who has resumed training ahead of Wednesday's second leg against City -- says they cannot take anything for granted.

"Obviously, winning it is a priority for Real Madrid," he said. "We know we face a difficult challenge but anything is possible.

"If Manchester City have made it to the semifinals, it's because they're an excellent team. Knocking out PSG is not an easy task, but they managed to do it. They are a team with very few weaknesses."