Cristiano Ronaldo has attempted to backtrack on his criticism of Real Madrid teammates.
The 30-year-old Portuguese laid into a number of squad players who replaced injured first-choice stars for 1-0 defeat to rivals Atletico on Saturday, saying it was “not the same” playing with them.
Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Pepe all missed out, while Karim Benzema was forced off with a hip injury late on, and speaking after the game Ronaldo said, “If we were all at my level, maybe we would be leaders.”
But he has since backtracked, telling Spanish newspaper Marca, “When I said this I was referring to my level of fitness, not play.
“I am not better than any of my teammates.”
Ronaldo’s comments still forced the Real skipper Sergio Ramos into a staunch defence of his squad.
“We are proud of everyone that is part of the squad and the work of all the players that get fewer minutes on the field,” he said.
“Players like Lucas Vazquez, Jese Rodriguez or Borja Mayoral are giving everything because they know how hard it is to get their chance here.
“But Cristiano is free to offer his opinion.”
Ronaldo had singled out the players Ramos mentioned, stating “I’m not saying the others like Lucas (Vazquez), Jese and (Mateo) Kovacic are not good players – they are very good players – but it’s not the same.”