Cristiano Ronaldo said Real Madrid would be in first place if his teammates were on his level, though he later clarified he only meant to refer to his injured teammates’ fitness.
The Portuguese superstar missed two clear chances in Saturday’s Madridderbi as Real lost 1-0 at home to Atletico.
Ronaldo, 31, now has just two goals in the 10 derbis since the 2014 Champions League final and none in his past five meetings against Diego Simeone’s side.
Real Madrid’s record goal scorer told reporters in in the Bernabeu mixed zone after the game that criticism of him personally was unfair as he was playing with teammates below his “level.”
“It annoys me that they say that Cristiano has dropped his level, and that is why Madrid have dropped their level,” he said. “If they were all at my level we would be first. You always ask me these crappy questions — it seems that here in Spain, I am in the s—.
“The numbers do not lie. Statistics never trick you — it is easy.”
Ronaldo later clarified his comments by telling Marca that he meant his teammates have not been as injury-free as he has been this season.
“When I said that I meant the physical level, not the game. I am not better than any of my teammates,” he said.
Ronaldo, who has played every minute in La Liga so far this season, said it was a big issue for Madrid to have to rely on squad players this season with bigger names like Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema unavailable.
“I don’t know if it is for bad preparation at the start of the season, but we are having many injuries and that is hurting us,” he said in the mixed zone. “I don’t want to knock anyone, no teammate, but when the best are missing … I like to play with Bale, Benzema
“I don’t want to say that Jese, Lucas [Vazquez] or [Mateo] Kovacic are not good players — they are very good, but … to win a competition you need to have your best players.
“Our best players are injured, unfortunately — it’s a fact, the reality. Bale is injured, Pepe, Karim is not at 100 percent, Marcelo is injured. I believe that is the principal problem this year.”
Ronaldo said that Barca’s better luck with injuries was the reason they were streaking ahead in the title race.
“In a competition this long, to win you need to have your best team. They are 12 points ahead, obviously they have done better than us,” Ronaldo said. “If you had Neymar, [Luis] Suarez and [Leo] Messi almost always injured, Barca wouldn’t be where they were. Maybe, but I don’t believe so.”
Ronaldo said Madrid had deserved more against Atletico but had missed their chances.
“We had more opportunities and we deserved to win, but football is like this,” he said. “La Liga was already difficult and now it has become more difficult.”
Though coach Zinedine Zidane accepted blame after his first defeat in charge, Ronaldo maintained he was not at fault.
“[Zidane] cannot play, but he is doing phenomenal work,” he said. “He is optimistic and relaxed, is making the team better. I want to give him time. I am happy to work with him.”
And Ronaldo said the Champions League, where Madrid are 2-0 up on Roma ahead of their last-16 second leg on March 17, remains for the team to play for.
“I am excited about that competition, we can win it,” he said. “We are starting from zero like the others. If you see the Champions League games, the team has played well.
“Psychologically it is not the same to play in the Champions League as in La Liga, where your chances are already screwed.”