MADRID: Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo claimed the Spanish giants would be top of La Liga rather than nine points behind Barcelona if his teammates matched his standards.
Ronaldo had a day to forget in front of goal as Real waved goodbye to any lasting hope of mounting a title challenge in a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) with even coach Zinedine Zidane admitting their challenge was over.
“If everyone was at my level, we would be top,” said Ronaldo.
“Every year according to the press it seems I am rubbish, but the numbers and statistics don’t lie.”
Madrid have endured a season from hell as Zidane replaced the sacked Rafael Benitez in January, whilst the club has suffered a series of institutional embarrassments, including being eliminated from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player.
The final whistle was met by a chorus of discontent from the home fans as they called for president Florentino Perez to resign.
A mounting injury list has also taken its toll as they were without Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Pepe, and Karim Benzema had to be replaced by 18-year-old Borja Mayoral at half-time.
And Ronaldo claimed that, despite Perez’s multi-million euro investment, Madrid don’t have a good enough squad to compete at the top level.
“I don’t want to undervalue any of my teammates, but when the best aren’t there it is difficult to win.”
“I like to play with Pepe, Karim, Bale, Marcelo. I don’t want to say that Jese (Rodriguez), Lucas (Vazquez), (Mateo) Kovavic are not good players, they are very good, but to win a competition you need the best.”
Defeat was Zidane’s first in nine games since taking charge last month and he admitted that he had been shocked by his side’s poor display.
“Today is a big blow. To lose at home to Atletico is difficult to take,” said the Frenchman. “I didn’t expect the game we saw today.
“The league is over. It was already difficult and I said yesterday if you drop more points it is even more so.
“We’re not just going to throw the league away because whatever happens we have goals, games to play and things to win. That is the idea we have to have going forward.”
Victory meant Atletico became the first visiting side ever to win three consecutive league games at the Bernabeu and solidified their position in second, four points ahead of Real.
“Today we were Atletico Madrid. There is no better example of what we are than what we showed today,” said coach Diego Simeone.
“Once again the fans of Atletico Madrid can feel immensely proud of their players.”
Simeone’s men trail Barcelona by five points, but the European champions can regain their eight-point advantage when they host Sevilla on Sunday.
“Barcelona are very good, it is difficult to see them losing three games,” added Simeone.
“We have to focus on our own objective which was to finish in the top three, but everyone wants to finish as high as possible.”
Atletico’s title bid has been hampered by a lack of goals in recent games, but Antoine Griez¬mann ended a five-game drought to slot home his 20th of the season early in the second half.
“I’m happy on a personal level and also for the team,” said Griezmann.
“We played a great game, we very solid at the back and, although we didn’t have many chances, one of them went in.”