Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo admitted his side had not been “physically or mentally” right as they were beaten 4-0 at Atletico Madrid on Saturday afternoon, though he pointed out they remain top of the La Liga table.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side were second-best throughout as Atletico won out easily through goals from Tiago, Saul, Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic, with Madrid’s galactico strike-force limited to just one shot on target all game.
The reigning Ballon d’Or holder told reporters in the Calderon mixed zone that his team had played “very badly,” but reminded unhappy fans this was just one game.
“We played very badly,” Ronaldo said. “From back to front. Nothing worked out. A day to forget as soon as possible.
“Madrid cannot lose 4-0 against any team in the world. But I see positive things in defeats — this must serve as a lesson for the future. We are still leaders, but we know we will have to fight until the end. The gaps are small. We must think positively.
“This is a crappy day because the dressing room is annoyed, but we must think positively because we are still top.”
A Madrid side who before Christmas won a record 22 consecutive games have struggled badly since the winter break, and Ronaldo admitted to a lack of freshness in the team.
“The team is not fresh, not physically nor mentally, in my opinion,” he said. “There is no need to see that as an excuse. The error is already made, and we must lift up our heads. There is no need to feel sorry for ourselves, as there’s still a long way to go in La Liga. We are still first.”
Pressed about Madrid’s apparent inability to match Atletico’s intensity and motivation — highlighted post-game by Ancelotti — Ronaldo admitted that it seemed the Calderon outfit had the upper hand at the moment.
“I do not know why we came out like this,” he said. “The last games we have not been able to beat Atletico. Before it was very difficult for Atletico to beat us. Things change, and cycles happen.
“Madrid must think positively and be the Madrid that we were. This team is very strong, in my opinion we are the best, but we must show that on the pitch. We are going to win La Liga again.”
Over a long season such setbacks occurred said Ronaldo, pointing out that Madrid had only had three days to recover from Wednesday’s 2-1 La Liga win at home to Sevilla.
“A perfect Liga is not possible,” he said. “The most important thing is to win and pick up points. In my opinion the team is fine, although we made a big mistake like this lack of the right attitude.
“The team was a bit tired physically, but this should serve as an example for the future. There was not much time for recovery for some players, because they played on Wednesday.
“Atletico did not want to change [match time] or could not, but that is not an excuse. The team was not as fresh as usual.”
Asked if he could remember such a comprehensive defeat as a Madrid player, Ronaldo recalled the hammering suffered by Jose Mourinho’s team against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in November 2010.
“We lost 5-0 against Barca, and they were difficult days,” the 30-year-old said.