When Cristiano Ronaldo shocked the football world in summer 2018 by leaving Real Madrid for Juventus, it was certain that the LaLiga giants would miss the impact of one of the all-time greats.
However, nobody could have predicted how much they would struggle in the Champions League group stage. Getting swept by Shakhtar Donetsk? Unthinkable.
In fact, the fine folks at ESPN have pointed out that since Ronaldo’s departure, Real Madrid have lost more group-stage matches in the last three seasons than Ronaldo’s entire reign at the club.
During Ronaldo’s run from 2009 to 2018, Real Madrid lost just THREE times in the group stage: 3-2 v AC Milan (2009), 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund (2012), and 3-1 at Real Madrid (2017).
Yes, you read that right. Over seven Champions League campaigns from 2010 to 2016, Real Madrid lost just ONCE in the group stage.
Now, Madridistas will be the first to note that each of the five games (CSKA x2, PSG, Shakhtar x2) that they have lost in the last three seasons have all taken place with Sergio Ramos absent.
It’s as if it’s nearly impossible to replace a player who scored over a goal a game for nine seasons.