Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has launched an amazing attack against his teammates following defeat to local rivals Atletico Madrid.
When you’re one of the world’s leading players, a three-time winner of the coveted Ballon D’or, and the greatest goal scorer in your team’s history, your words become the focus of intense scrutiny. This is only magnified when the team you are playing for is Real Madrid, one of the most famous clubs in world football. So, you would think that Cristiano Ronaldo would be used to watching what he says when talking to the media.
Despite this, he launched a scathing attack on his teammates after Atletico Madrid beat Real 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, becoming the first team in history to beat Real Madrid three times in a row at their home ground. Speaking to the media in a post-match interview, Ronaldo stated that “if everybody else was at my level then maybe we would be top of the table.”
The Daily Mail claims that the comments are likely to further damage the reputation of Ronaldo amongst his Real Madrid team mates. The dressing room at Real Madrid is reputed to be divided, and Ronaldo is often said to be at the center of the divide, although the club has often been at great pains to deny any split in the dressing room.
The 1-0 defeat leaves Madrid nine points behind league leaders Barcelona, having played a game more. Ronaldo himself had the best chance for the hosts to take points from the game, but he headed straight at the Atletico keeper, Jan Oblak, when presented with a free header, although the quality of play from Real Madrid during the match was poor.
Ronaldo’s attack seemed to be aimed at the squad players at Real Madrid. He singled out young Spanish forward Jese, Mateo Kovacic, and Lucas Vazquez for criticism, claiming they are not as good as the star teammates, such as Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
“I like to play alongside Karim [Benzema] for example. I like to play alongside Bale. I like to play alongside Marcelo and when Marcelo is not there it is more difficult. That is not to say that Jese and Lucas [Vazquez] and Mateo Kovacic are not good. They are very good, but …”
Given the amount of money that has been spent at Real Madrid building a team around Cristiano Ronaldo, his words are unlikely to endear him to the Real hierarchy. Kovacic cost the club a reported 29 million euros, while Danilo, who covered for Marcelo at left back, cost over 31.5 million euros. Despite the huge outlay, Ronaldo and his team mates find themselves back in a distant third place in the title race.
Ronaldo’s position at Real Madrid has come under much scrutiny during the current season, a fact that seems absurd for a player who has scored 347 goals, at over a goal a game, during his spell with the team. He was also recognized as the world’s best player when winning back to back Ballon D’ors as recently as 2013 and 2014. However, his output in big games has dropped, and he is yet to score a goal in games against the top 5 teams in Spain this season, and also drew blanks in big European games. Real Madrid have also failed to really challenge Barcelona during his stay, winning the league title only once since Ronaldo joined in 2009. The highlight of his stay was winning La Decima in 2014, when Real Madrid became the first club in history to win the Champions League ten times.
Since then, Ronaldo has continued to score goals, but there is a growing feeling that the club may benefit more by cashing in on Ronaldo now and using the money to build a more coherent team rather than rely on the superstar.
Ronaldo himself moved quickly to defuse the row about his criticism of his team mates, with the BBC reporting that Ronaldo insists he was merely talking about levels of physical conditioning rather than levels of ability.
Despite these efforts, it seems that Cristiano Ronaldo has once again opened the door for criticism of Real Madrid’s team ethic. Whether he can ride the storm and help Real Madrid reach former heights remains to be seen.
[Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images]