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Cristiano Ronaldo

‘Ronaldo meant Real Madrid’s opponents had to score two’ - Blancos haven’t replaced Portuguese, says Capello

21:36 GMT+3 21/03/2020
Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid
A former coach of the Liga giants admits that a big void is yet to be filled in the Spanish capital, with youngsters not yet ready to step up

Real Madrid have failed to adequately replace Cristiano Ronaldo, says Fabio Capello, with the presence of a Portuguese superstar meaning that the Blancos’ opponents used to need “at least two goals” to win.

A five-time Ballon d’Or winner bid farewell to Santiago Bernabeu during the summer transfer window of 2018.

Ronaldo, after nine years in Spain, opted to take on a new challenge in Italy with Serie A giants Juventus.

His absence has been felt in Madrid, with Real struggling to replicate the success they enjoyed when an all-time great graced their books.

Capello says Ronaldo almost guaranteed the Blancos a goal every time he took to the field, with Zinedine Zidane left short of those qualities during a second spell at the helm.

The former Real boss told AS: “As a television commentator I would always say that if you want to beat Madrid, you have to score at least two goals, because you knew that Cristiano would be sure to get one. The same applies to Barca with [Lionel] Messi.

“It is necessary to make changes, but with care. You have to sign players who make a difference, because when you wear the Madrid or Barca shirt it can weigh heavily on your shoulders. If you don't have lots of quality, you can't do it, you get lost.

“The same thing happened during my time at Milan, when it was time to play at the San Siro. There were players who thought they were good and they found themselves lost.”

Real have continued to invest heavily in top talent, such as Eden Hazard, while promising youngsters such as Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior and Martin Odegaard are considered to have bright futures.

Capello, though, believes it would be too big an ask to expect those still learning their trade to step up and become talismanic figures for one of the biggest sides on the planet.

The Italian added: “We’re waiting for them to explode. In my second spell at Madrid we signed Marcelo, [Fernando] Gago and [Gonzalo] Higuaín. In December the president came to me and said: ‘Why don't you put them on, Fabio!’

“‘Because they are kids,’ I told him, ‘and you have to wait a while. They are the future, they can make history later.’ And the only one of them who did little was Gago, while the other two did their part. They needed experience and character.

“You have to sign young people and then use them little by little, taking care of them. You cannot give them the responsibility now.”

Real entered the coronavirus-enforced break in Spain sat second in the Liga table, while they face an uphill battle in the Champions League following a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the first leg of their heavyweight last-16 encounter.