Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bale out to Show Real Don't Need Ronaldo's Goals

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bale out to Show Real Don't Need Ronaldo's Goals

Article excerpt

Byline: real madrid v roma (8pm, Bernabeu, BT Sport ESPN) Ben Hayward

WHERE are Real Madrid's goals going to come from? That is the key question as the Spanish giants begin a Champions League campaign without Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time since 2008.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner helped Real win four European Cups in the past five seasons, while he scored an astonishing 105 Champions League goals in nine seasons at the Bernabeu, including 15 last term for Zinedine Zidane's side.

Zidane left at the end of May to be replaced by Julen Lopetegui but Madrid did not bring in a big name for Ronaldo following his move to Juventus. Instead, his former team-mates have had to step up in front of goal.

Karim Benzema already has four goals in La Liga this season, having hit just five in the whole Primera Division campaign last term, while Gareth Bale has netted three times in the league.

"It's maybe a bit more relaxed [without Ronaldo]," Bale told the Daily Mail this week. "I suppose there is more of a team, more working as one unit rather than one player."

Ronaldo was virtually exempt from defensive duties during games and his team-mates were expected to work at creating chances that he could finish.

But not now.

Asked about Ronaldo's absence yesterday, Lopetegui said: "We're focused on the players who are here and the squad is prepared to fight for trophies -- we are sure of that."

In the meantime, Madrid's players are desperate to prove they were no oneman team and some of them are angry at the nature of Ronaldo's exit in July.

After completing his move to Turin, Ronaldo said: "Juventus is different. Here, everyone is a family."

That remark did not go down well with his former Real team-mates, with captain Sergio Ramos saying: "I don't know if he is talking about the dressing room but we have always felt like a family here and a big part of the success is because we have worked as one. …

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