Cristiano Ronaldo directed the blame for Real Madrid’s Liga woes towards his team-mates on Saturday by claiming “if everyone was at my level, perhaps we would be first”.
Madrid suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to city rivals Atletico – Antoine Griezmann scoring the only goal at the Santiago Bernabeu – to remain nine points behind leaders Barcelona ahead of the Catalans’ clash with Sevilla on Sunday while they are now four adrift of second-placed Atleti.
And with supporters protesting against president Florentino Perez, it made for a miserable afternoon for Ronaldo and coach Zinedine Zidane.
When asked about Madrid’s problems afterwards, however, Ronaldo felt he was doing all he could.
“It annoys me that people say Cristiano’s performances have suffered and that because of that Real Madrid have suffered. If everyone was at my level, perhaps we would be first,” he told Cope.
“You [reporters] think I am s***, if I read what the press says. The statistics are there.”
Madrid were missing several first-team regulars on Saturday, including Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Pepe while Karim Benzema was forced off through injury at half-time.
“I do not want to belittle anyone but when they are not the best it is difficult to win. I like to play with Karim, Bale and Marcelo,” he added.
“I do not mean that Jese, Lucas [Vazquez] and [Mateo] Kovacic are not good, they are very good but to win a competition you need the best and that has been our main problem this year.”
Ronaldo felt Barcelona would be in similar strife if their best players had also suffered injuries.
“If Neymar, [Luis] Suarez and [Lionel] Messi were always injured Barca would not be where they are. I repeat it is hard to win a competition without the best.”
Despite the large points difference to Barca, Ronaldo insisted there would be no let up from Madrid.
“We will not give up,” he said. “We still have to compete.
“We had more opportunities [against Atletico] but we must carry on.”