Cristiano Ronaldo avoided criticising the crop of new players that have recently arrived at Real Madrid after Wednesday's loss to Tottenham, but conceded that the defending European champion is suffering from a lack of experience.
On the heels of a decisive 3-1 loss to Spurs - Real Madrid's first group stage defeat since 2012 - and a disappointing defeat to Girona in La Liga last weekend, Ronaldo reflected on the aspects that helped fuel Los Blancos to back-to-back Champions League titles, and identified the losses of Pepe, Alvaro Morata, and James Rodriguez as major factors behind the team's recent struggles.
"The players who have arrived have a lot of potential but Pepe, Morata, and James made us stronger and the players are younger now," Ronaldo told reporters, according to Richard Martin of Reuters.
"Our squad isn't worse, but it's less experienced and experience is very important. But it's no excuse and we shouldn't be alarmed."
All three players were offloaded this past summer. Pepe joined Turkish side Besiktas, while Morata was sold to Chelsea for £60 million. Rodriguez was shipped off to Germany, where he has begun to feature more frequently for Bayern Munich since joining the defending Bundesliga champion on a two-year loan deal.
(Photo courtesy: Getty)
Real Madrid's starting team Wednesday was comprised mainly of the stars that have helped add silver to Real Madrid's trophy case. But the inclusion of 18-year-old defender Achraf Hakimi and second-choice goalkeeper Kiko Casilla in the starting XI, as well as a bench with an average age of 20, backs Ronaldo's claim that Real Madrid lacks experience.
Despite the consecutive losses, Ronaldo would not get caught up in talk of a crisis and cited the tremendous success since manager Zinedine Zidane took charge of Real Madrid.
"People forget about the good times very quickly. I never talk of a crisis, you can lose three or four games but there's never a crisis. We can't forget what we've achieved," he said.
"This is a bad run but we want to turn things around and I'm sure we will. This is only the start of the season, we still have a lot of time to improve and I‘m convinced we will."