Why Hazard cannot replace Ronaldo at Real Madrid: Goal(opinion)

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New Real Madrid coach, Julen Lopetegui is going to have to find 50 goals a season from somewhere now that Ronaldo has gone but he wouldn’t get them from the Chelsea attacker

No player in the world can simply replace Cristiano Ronaldo.

Whatever happens from here, Real Madrid have got to reconcile themselves to the fact that they’ve just kissed goodbye an average of 50 goals a season that Ronaldo got throughout his nine campaigns at Santiago Bernabeu.

Under Zinedine Zidane the team was structured to extract goals from Ronaldo. In all competitions he scored 44 times last season. He may well have been named on the left side of the Madrid attack but he certainly didn’t play there.

The days when Ronaldo gallops at his full-back and whips in a cross or a shot as his primary attacking moves are long gone. He’s a striker and a pretty good one at that.

His game has become about first-time instinctive finishes, clever runs into the box and anticipation. What’s more, it requires the rest of the individuals set within the attacking formation to cater for him. Madrid’s next top scorer last season was Gareth Bale with 21; two of which came in the Champions League final against Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s team did a good job in keeping Ronaldo shackled but that exposed the second strength of having him in the lineup. Even if he is marked well then it leaves space open for others to work. Again, Madrid have lost that crucial decoy in their attack. Among the players they currently employ, there is nobody who can do what Ronaldo did – either in front of goal or simply to alarm an opposition defence by his very presence.

Maybe new coach Julen Lopetegui will seek to deploy Marco Asensio on the left, where the promising young Spaniard has played well, most notably in the Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain last season. The left-footed Asensio would be a more direct threat on that side of attack and wouldn’t carry the poacher’s gift that Ronaldo acquired over the years.

In any case, Karim Benzema is too tame a forward to be catered to as a central tenet of the attack. He does not possess the ruthlessness of an Edinson Cavani or a Robert Lewandowski. He has got used to life as a facilitator – for Ronaldo or Bale – in the Madrid attack. To transform him into a relentless No.9 will take time and there are no guarantees he can do it.

The trouble for Madrid is that it currently appears unlikely they will go in for another centre forward in this transfer window. In that regard, Lopetegui is probably going to have to work with what he’s got.

Zidane also got used to fielding a playmaker in Isco behind Benzema and Ronaldo last season. And given the profile of both players, it again appears dubious that Lopetegui can replicate that system with the squad he’s got in situ at the moment.

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