If you’re a Real Madrid fan and a frequent user of social media you should never been too far away from a comment about Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar may have left Madrid for Turin last summer but his large shadow still looms over the Santiago Bernabéu, especially in times of crisis.
‘No Ronaldo, No Party’, ‘Bring back Cristiano!’, ‘We shouldn’t have sold Cristiano’. Take your pick from any of there aforementioned comments which usually arise following a Real Madrid draw or defeat. Los Blancos are enduring a challenging season and the absence of the club’s greatest ever player is now more obvious than ever.
It should have been from the start. But when Cristiano announced his decision to leave Madrid for Juventus after winning a third straight Champions League under Zinedine Zidane his departure was met with sadness but a hope that other players could emerge from his shadow.
Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Isco were amongst the players expected to thrive in his absence and from the start it looked like that could be the case but only Karim Benzema has really improved this season. Cristiano’s goals have not been shared around as expected.
Saturday’s 0-1 Clásico defeat highlighted Madrid’s need to plug the gap left bay Cristiano more than ever. Los Blancos failed to find the back of the net but they also failed to find the back of the net for the second time in four days against their bitter rivals on home soil. The chances were there but they were not taken.
It begs the question of what would have been. Had Cristiano stuck around, would things have been much different? It’s difficult to argue against that when Madrid missed such guilt-edged chances. It seemed all that was missing, especially in the 0-3 Copa del Rey semi-final result, was the end product. A product Ronaldo could have offered.
Benzema has performed well this season but he is not a goal poacher. Vinicius Jr., similarly, has been somewhat of a revelation this term but his finishing currently leaves plenty to be desired. Asensio seems to have taken a backwards step while Isco has been frozen out under Santiago Solari and Bale seems to have played his final Clásico with rumours rife around his future.
These players are not bad players but something is not working at the moment and Madrid are in no position to wait and hope things get better in front of goal. A big-name proven finisher needs to arrive at the Bernabéu this summer if Los Blancos want to return to winning ways.