Soccer

Ronaldo, Kaka mirror dysfunctional Madrid start

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MADRID (AP)

If Real Madrid's dysfunctional start to the season wasn't bewildering enough, star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka have fans scratching their heads even more.

Ronaldo has four goals in five games and helped the defending league champion edge bitter rival Barcelona for the Spanish Super Cup. Kaka hasn't played a single minute this season, even though Real only has one win in three league games.

Yet it's Ronaldo who's glum and Kaka who's cheerful.

Madrid fans were left bewildered by Ronaldo's admission of feeling ''sad'' after a two-goal performance in Sunday's 3-0 victory over Granada. The Portugal forward called it a ''professional'' problem after refusing to celebrate his scores.

''I am sad and the club knows it, that's why I didn't celebrate the goals. The people in the club know why,'' said Ronaldo, who also scored two goals during the two-legged Super Cup triumph over Barcelona. ''I'm not going to say anything else, people know why.''

Andres Iniesta edged out Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on Friday for the inaugural Best Player in Europe award. Asked if that had upset him, Ronaldo replied ''no.''

There were Spanish reports suggesting Ronaldo had met with club president Florentino Perez on Saturday to discuss his problems, and his future.

Kaka, meanwhile, insisted Monday he was happy at the club and enjoying the challenge of showing the form that won him the 2007 Ballon d'Or while at AC Milan.

''I'm happy. Yes, happy. It's a new chapter and I'm happy about it,'' the grinning Kaka said at a publicity event. ''It's a psychological test to my patience. But the season is very long, so I'll get my chance. I'll be ready for when the moment comes.''

Coach Jose Mourinho said the Brazilian playmaker could still have an impact at Madrid.

''Kaka is not dead weight for the club. Nobody is,'' Mourinho said. ''The moment will arrive when Kaka will have to give it his all, so he will not be dead weight and be an option instead.''

Kaka is even dreaming of playing for Brazil when it hosts the 2014 World Cup.

''I hope to, it's my dream. If I remain here at Madrid and show a consistent level, I can,'' said Kaka, who joined Madrid in a ?65 million (then $92 million) transfer.

Madrid trails Barcelona by five points in the standings after only three games, with neither team particularly impressive so far.

''We have to play a lot better than we have,'' Mourinho said. ''The team showed little ambition, little intensity, little rhythm - and I did not like that.''

Madrid's inability to raise its game against the modest talents of Getafe and Granada may prove detrimental to its league campaign, but the team has showed against Barcelona it can get up for crucial matches. Those will include Champions League group games against Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.

''The team played to the limit from the very first minute against Barcelona. It played a game it hasn't on other occasions, and those are factors I still need to investigate and find solutions to because it seems as if our ambition isn't there,'' Mourinho said.

Ronaldo joined Madrid from Manchester United in a transfer worth 80 million pounds (then $131 million) in 2009 to become one of the world's top earning players.

Madrid fan Juan Carlos Jaramillo, 30, isn't particularly impressed with Ronaldo as Spain stumbles through a financial crisis that has resulted in nearly a quarter of the population unemployed.

''I think he's sad because he lost the award to Iniesta. That was the last straw for him, he can't take losing again to Barca,'' Jaramillo said. ''For someone who makes a pretty good living, it's no way to act.''

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Follow Paul Logothetis at http://twitter.com/PaulLogoAP



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