Real Madrid and life after Cristiano Ronaldo

A world record transfer fee at the time, nine years in total in which he became the club’s record goal scorer and just the 450 goals in total. So, just how do Real Madrid replace Cristiano Ronaldo in front of goal?

It’s fair to say that a lot of the responsibility will rest on the broad and talented shoulders of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, but Los Blancos have acted cleverly in the transfer market bringing back the fox in the box front man, Mariano Diaz from Lyon.

The 25-year-old showed serious confidence and self-belief by grabbing the number 7 shirt vacated by his illustrious predecessor.

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Diaz enjoyed a hugely successful period in Ligue 1 helping himself to 18 goals in 37 games and adds considerable back up quality in the attacking positions.

As for how the team will line up in the Portuguese legends absence, new manager Julen Lopategui has opted for a front four or front three with “number 10” in behind of the aforementioned Bale and Benzema, coupled with the creative spark of Isco and the hugely entertaining Marco Asensio.

With the extra fluidity, fleet-footed movement, freedom and extra goal scoring responsibility greatly accepted by these stars, Real Madrid – along with arch rivals Barcelona – have enjoyed a perfect 100% start to the La Liga campaign scoring ten goals in just three games.

Karim Benzema seems to have a new lease of life also. It was well documented regarding his poor goal return in La Liga last season, with just the five goals but his work rate around Cristiano which earned him plaudits, managing to register ten assists.

This season alone, however, the Frenchman has hit the back of The net four times. His new boss Lopategui has already described Benzema and Gareth Bale as “training like little kids”.

So it is evident from the manager’s words that the two superstars are relishing and already enjoying the challenge of filling the void left behind by CR7, instead of the back-up roles Ronaldo’s shadow sometimes casts.

Gareth Bale, now injury free and playing the type of elite level of football that earned him an at the time world record move from Tottenham Hotspur, also seems somewhat liberated.

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Now entering a trophy laden fifth year in the famous white shirt and given the title of “the main man” from the Bernabeu hierarchy, the 29-year-old superstar is already on a goal a game and shows no signs of slowing down.

He scored another wonderful effort for his national team against the Republic of Ireland, whipping in a devastating left footed curler from the edge of the area.

It will take time of course to see how a Ronaldo shaped hole will be filled, for example, against tougher opposition when chances wont be as fruitful, but the signs are ominous for La Liga and European defences.

This “new” Real Madrid attack under the tutelage of ex-Spain boss Lopategui are just warming up and collectively have the arsenal to fire this side to whatever trophy they please.

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Darryl Geraghty

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