Bale & Real Madrid stronger without Ronaldo - Manolas

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The Roma defender believes the Blancos will pose more of a threat in Champions League competition now that they have parted with a Portuguese star

Real Madrid are “stronger” without Cristiano Ronaldo, says Roma defender Kostas Manolas, with the likes of Gareth Bale flourishing after being freed from the Portuguese’s shadow.

The Blancos have conquered Europe in each of the last three seasons, and four of the last five.

They are, however, about to embark on a first continental adventure in nine years without a five-time Ballon d’Or winner within their ranks.

Ronaldo is now leading the charge at Italian giants Juventus, but Manolas believes Real could pose more of a threat without him.

The Greece international told Marca ahead of a Champions League opener against Julen Lopetegui’s side on Wednesday: “He [Ronaldo] is a champion, but Madrid will always be Madrid.

“Now they play more as a team. Now players like Gareth Bale, who were always behind Ronaldo, like everyone is, are appearing.

“That was logical and now you will see the talent of all the players and the team. The whole team played for him and now it will be stronger, I'm sure.”

Despite acknowledging the strength of Real, Manolas insists Roma head to Santiago Bernabeu with no fear.

“Never. We are not scared of anyone,” he added.

“Respect yes, but fear no. They have an amazing team, a great spine, great up front, at the back... but fear, no.”

Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus Sassuolo

While Roma are preparing to face a Blancos side without Ronaldo, they are set to meet the 33-year-old on a domestic stage this season.

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Ronaldo's arrival in Serie A has helped to raise the profile of the division once more, with Manolas happy to welcome a global superstar to Italy – even if he has joined a direct rival.

He said: “Ronaldo in recent times has been at an incredible level, the best in the world.

“He has scored so many goals, won a load of Champions Leagues, a European Championship with Portugal, a load of good games. He has been at an incredible level and it's normal to speak about him.”

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