Former Real Madrid head coach Fabio Capello thinks his former club are paying the price for thinking they could achieve the same level of success without Cristiano Ronaldo.
No like for like replacement was brought in, while Madrid also was forced into a change at the top, with Zinedine Zidane abruptly resigning and Julen Lopetegui hired in his stead.
But the results have not been there for the European Champions in La Liga, with Lopetegui sacked after a 5-1 defeat to Barcelona in the Clasico and replacement Santiago Solari suffering his first defeat at the helm last weekend via a shock 3-0 setback to Eibar.
Capello thinks much of the club’s issues stems from Ronaldo’s departure, noting the star attacker did more than just score goals, he also opened up space for his team-mates to operate.
"Maybe Madrid [are worse], they are paying the price for thinking that they could get results without Cristiano Ronaldo," Capello told La Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of Madrid’s Champions League clash with Roma.
"When he was there, teams were scared and the other players were more free.
"He could create problems at any moment.”
Yet, while Madrid are struggling, Capello noted they still are a dangerous side, adding: “Marcelo and Carvajal are now back from injury.”
Solari had gotten off to a perfect start in his first four games at Real Madrid before the defeat last weekend.
That heaped more scrutiny on the coach, but Capello is not overly concerned about that particular defeat in isolation, but does note the team’s defending appears to be lacking.
"The directors don't make these [coaching] decisions based on charm, although there has to be a group of players who listen to the president,” he added. “I'm not too worried about the most recent defeat, but more about what they're doing well and doing badly.
“We know they're not defending well in their area, but they do have Courtois who gives them security".
Despite their struggles in La Liga, Madrid sit joint top in Group G with an opportunity to lock up their spot in the knockout rounds against another of Capello's old clubs in Roma.
However, Capello is not confident the reigning champions can get the job done tonight, thinking physicality and coaching will be enough to see Roma to the victory at Stadio Olimpico.
"Attention to Los Blancos' great quality, but the Giallorossi are better physically and Di Francesco is more flexible," he added.
“Italian teams suffer when the Spaniards have the ball, but I trust that Roma can have a great game and win."