Real Madrid's La Liga hopes are fading fast, and Cristiano Ronaldo
is unhappy. Following a 1-0 loss to rival Atletico Madrid that dropped Real Madrid 12 points behind Barcelona and
four points behind second-place Atletico Madrid, Ronaldo said the problem was that all of his teammates weren't up to his level.
Because of injuries, Real Madrid was without fellow stars
and Gareth Bale
“We’re missing Karim, Pepe
, Bale and it’s difficult,” Ronaldo said. “The others who
played are not as good. Any team needs its best players. I’m not saying Danilo
, Jese, Lucas [Vazquez
] and [Mateo] Kovacic
are not good, but those who are missing are
Those remarks did not go over well at Real Madrid, where Zinedine Zidane
took over as head coach this winter, and Ronaldo apologized.
referring to the physical level, not level of play," he told Marca. "I am not better than any of my teammates.”
Zidane tried to put the controversy behind the club.
“Cristiano has spoken to everyone, with me and all," he said. "The matter is past. We know the importance of Cristiano and we’re all with him. What’s important is what we have ahead
of us and we’ll get through it together.”
Ronaldo had a point, though. Bale just returned to full training after being out six weeks with a calf injury. Benzema went off at
halftime of the Atletico game with right leg muscle injury and will be for a month.
Real Madrid appears to be paying the price for its poor physical conditioning. Madrid papers reported
that when he inherited the job from Rafa Benitez
, Zidane was shocked at the fitness levels of key players -- German Toni Kroos
and Colombian James Rodriguez
-- and that was before
the injuries to Bale and Benzema.