REAL Madrid suffered a damaging home defeat to local rival Atletico Madrid Saturday all but ending its hopes of winning the La Liga title.
Yet star-player Cristiano Ronaldo posited a simple solution post match that could help rectify his side’s woes.
“If we were all at my level, maybe we would be leaders,” the Portuguese forward said in comments carried by the Press Association news agency.
Ronaldo reportedly lamented the absence of injured players Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Pepe and Karim Benzema, who was withdrawn at half-time with a hip problem, when speaking to reporters in the mixed zone at the Santiago Bernabeu after the game.
“I don’t want to disrespect anyone, but when the best players aren’t available it’s harder to win. I like to play with Karim, with Bale, with Marcelo,” Ronaldo continued.
“I’m not saying the others like Lucas Vazquez, Jese (Rodriguez) and Mateo Kovacic are not good players. They are very good players, but it’s not the same.”
Ronaldo, who has scored a remarkable 247 goals in 225 games for Real, also criticized members of the media.
“For all you guys it seems I am s***. But I don’t listen to what the press say. The statistics and numbers don’t lie.”
However, Ronaldo later seemed to backtrack on some of his more pointed comments when speaking to Madrid based sports paper Marca, stating he was referring to his teammates fitness and not their abilities.
“When I say that, I am talking about my fitness level, not my level as a player. I am no better than any of my teammates,” he said.
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos also offered praise to some of the players earlier singled out by Ronaldo when speaking to the press.
“At the end of the day, everyone tries to perform at their maximum level and as captain I feel proud of every single teammate,” Ramos said.
“I insist that everyone will have a different opinion (but) I have always put a lot of emphasis on the work of the academy players. Or on those that play less minutes, but really show a lot of character when they do,” he added.
Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the game for Atletico Saturday, securing the Rojiblancos’ third straight victory at the Bernabeu.
The result was coach Real Zinedine Zidane’s first defeat since he took over at the 10-time European champion in January.
It also leaves Los Blancos languishing in third position in the La Liga table, four points behind second-placed Atletico and nine behind leaders Barcelona which has a game in hand. – CNN