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Cristiano Ronaldo's absence shows his importance to Zidane

Madrid have missed their Portuguese goal-machine on the pre-season tour of the USA, with Bale and Benzema still yet to find their groove.

Cristiano y Zidane.
Reuters / Kim Kyung-HoonREUTERS

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to jet-set around the globe during his summer break, but there is only one place where Zinedine Zidane wants him: the United States.

Madrid miss Ronaldo's scoring touch

Real Madrid have missed their ‘7’ during the pre-season tour on the other side of the Atlantic, and he will not return until the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, at the earliest. Without Ronaldo, the goals have dried up.

Monaco’s precocious talent Kylian Mbappé is Madrid’s chief target in the transfer market, and the two other members of the ‘BBC’ have failed to make an impact. Neither Bale, nor Benzema have found the net in Madrid’s friendly matches.

With Morata, who scored 20 goals in the 2016/17 campaign despite spending much of the season as a substitute, now at Chelsea, and Zidane saying he is happy with this current squad, it falls to the existing attackers to increase their performance levels. Yet none of the four players who have scored this summer (Casemiro, Kovacic, Asensio, and Óscar) are strikers. All eyes fall upon Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

Bale and Benzema under the spotlight

Bale, in particular, is under scrutiny. The Welsh winger, with whom Jose Mourinho cannot stop flirting this summer, wanted to grab the bull by the horns this pre-season.

“It is his first complete pre-season with me, and he knows that he has to have a good year, he looks good to me physically,” said Zinedine Zidane in his first press conference at UCLA. Eight days and three matches later, Bale is still stalling. Three shots in the International Champions Cup, zero goals. Those are his statistics.

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Benzema, who is the only ‘9’ apart from Borja Mayoral, has been sluggish. Against Manchester City, he was slow to latch on to a Modric pass, while he broke down a counter attack against Barcelona by going solo, rather than giving the obvious pass to Marco Asensio.

Bale holds some unwanted records from El Clásico Miami: in the first half, he made less passes than any of his team-mates (8) and touched the ball just 12 times. His injuries problems make statistical analysis of his goalscoring a little problematic, but it is still interesting that during the 2015/16 campaign he scored a goal every 125 minutes. Last season, that fell to a goal every 215 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo, by contrast, found the net every 98 minutes.

Benzema was also a long way off the Portuguese. He contributed some artistic passages of play, that dribble at the Calderón springs to mind, but he only scored once every 170 minutes.

Real Madrid compete for their first title of the season in eight days, and they will have to do so without goal-machine Ronaldo.


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