Real Madrid are preparing to tackle their first Clasico since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, as they head to Camp Nou to take on Barcelona on Sunday.
The Portugal international departed for Juventus during the close season and this weekend’s clash will be the first Clasico clash not to feature both Ronaldo and great rival Lionel Messi since 2007, with the latter having broken his arm against Sevilla.
But you may be surprised to discover that Ronaldo’s rare absences from the fixture during his time in the Spanish capital invariably resulted in victories for Madrid.
With Ronaldo in the team, Madrid won only 26 per cent of their matches against Barcelona (8/30).
On the only two occasions he was missing, Madrid emerged victorious – in the 2014 Copa del Rey final and the second leg of the 2017 Supercopa de Espana.
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) 18 October 2018
Those statistics undersell Ronaldo’s contribution to this fixture over the years, though.
Only Messi (26) has scored more Clasico goals than Ronaldo, who is level with Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano on 18.
Those goals came at a ratio of 0.6 goals per game, which is understandably lower than his overall record of 1.05 per game given the quality of the opposition.
Perhaps most alarming for Madrid, however, is that Ronaldo accounted for 38 per cent of the goals they scored against Barcelona during his time at the club.
Madrid failed to replace Ronaldo following his departure and are now paying the price, falling well short of their lofty standards so far this season.
Los Blancos’ lowly position of seventh in LaLiga has heaped pressure on head coach Julen Lopetegui after only a few months in the job, with Tuesday’s win against Viktoria Plzen snapping a five-match winless run in all competitions.
Ronaldo’s absence will unquestionably take some of the gloss off the occasion when the latest instalment of El Clasico plays out on Sunday; Madrid’s hope is that it will not do the same to their performance.
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