La Liga Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo during the match

Published on September 2nd, 2018 | by Paco Polit

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Cristiano Ronaldo struggles without his Real Madrid supporting cast

🕓 Reading time: 3 minutes

While a rampant Real Madrid are getting along just fine without Cristiano Ronaldo, the new Juventus man is still struggling to score in Serie A  

… And Madrid are suddenly scoring left and right while Cristiano’s well remains dry

In a compelling twist of fate, Juventus’ star striker is struggling for goals while his former team is slicing and dicing the opposition with ease.

This summer’s traumatic chain of events at Santiago Bernabeu left fans and press with one single question: just how were Real Madrid going to compensate for the lack of Cristiano Ronaldo’s forty to fifty goals per season?

Just when the issue was more pressing regarding Real’s production capacity, the answer has been a resounding ten goals in three games. And the answer, at this point, isn’t related to new signings or additions. The squad’s response has been better than expected: rising up to the challenge and providing those goals themselves.

On Saturday, Real’s clinical tearing apart of a spirited Leganés in the second-half conveyed a number of things. The most obvious one: Julen Lopetegui’s squad really seems keen on LaLiga, taking the competition seriously from day one. Three games, three wins and a feeling of power, technical and tactical superiority.

One of the summer’s biggest changes has been the role switch for Gareth Bale. With Cristiano in the squad, the Welshman was a secondary character, a side dish for the Portuguese’s main course. Now, Bale feels important once again: the manager has entrusted him with the reins of the team as he has the character and personality to be a leader, much more than other veteran players such as Karim Benzemá. Against Lega he scored the opener with a fantastic side volley after a Carvajal assist.

Speaking of the devil…Benzema has undergone quite the transformation. He continues to play for the team as wonderfully as he used to, but now the Frenchman shows an edge and accuracy that combine with his other qualities to form a lethal cocktail. His header for the 2-1 was beautifully executed, aimed right next to the post; his finish in the third goal, an excellent example of all his skills up front.

Benzema has scored four times in three games. Not bad for a player who, for almost a decade,  was required to evolve his primary role as striker to become almost a luxury assistant to Cristiano’s ever-hungry scoring persona.

Finally, the game against Lega was capped off with a Sergio Ramos goal from the penalty spot. When Cristiano played for Real, there was zero debate regarding who took every free-kick and penalty: it was his team, so they were his responsibilities. With the Portuguese out of the equation, Ramos has stepped up to become quite a reliable taker. Two goals in three games and the Camas-born full-back has proved to everyone that even defenders can become offense assets under the right circumstances.

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However, most of these items in Real Madrid’s life after Cristiano would remain as anecdotes if it wasn’t for the fact that, well, Cristiano hasn’t been up to his former self lately. There was controversy surrounding his departure for Real, though the question was asked almost as a whisper: what if the player is in fact the one to miss the comfort and assisting qualities of the top players who surrounded him at Real?

To date, Cristiano has been unable to score after three Serie A games where he started and played the ninety minutes. Against Parma this weekend, he again showed signs of getting desperate with his inability to score. Juve won, obviously, and they are leading the standings after three games with the same number of wins. But Ronaldo doesn’t seem happy with his current performance level.

It’s only a matter of time until the Portuguese starts scoring regularly. But, at this point, the momentum he used to have as a Real Madrid player is gone. Take last week’s Champions League draw, for example. In the ceremony before, Luka Modric was named Player of the Year in the 17-18 edition. Cristiano, in a raging fit, decided not to attend the ceremony… and he was harshly slammed by the media. He should have known better: after all, Real’s warm and comfy umbrella sheltered him from criticism in the past, and that’s no longer the case.

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About the Author

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Paco Polit is a Valencia-based journalist with over ten years experience reporting La Liga, covering both Valencia CF and Levante's news, signings, ups and downs. Madrid and Barcelona are huge, indeed, but the Spanish La Liga is much, much more: regarded as the top football competition in the world, he enjoys explaining why to every reader from abroad.



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