3 players who need step up in the post-Ronaldo era
It's still unimaginable to think of Real Madrid without their biggest superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. As they say "life goes on" and it seems to be happening with Real Madrid at the moment. Taking 9 out of all the possible 9 points and sitting level on points with Barcelona on the top of the table.
As fixtures start piling up after the international break, Lopetegui will start feeling the pressure if he is already not feeling it at the moment, being the manager of the most successful club in the history of Champions League Football.
The stats suggesting that the void created by the departure of their all-time top-scorer will be too big to fill any time soon. Ronaldo scored 450 goals in all competitions in his 9 years with the Los Blancos, Averaging more than a goal per game during this period. Looking at the Real Madrid squad there is still a lot of talent to cope with the loss and these players can definitely make a difference.
#1 Gareth Bale
The player who will profit the most from the departure of Ronaldo is Gareth Bale. Once the player who constantly got neglected under Zinedine Zidane mainly because of his iterative injury issues is now probably the strongest weapon in the arsenal of the Galacticos. If he stays fit he can certainly become the player once everyone thought he could be when he signed for Real Madrid.
He has been criticised a lot in the past for the lack of progress after joining Real Madrid. The stage is set for him to become the focal point around whom the team can build up the attack. Scoring 10 goals in his last 10 official matches, his current form certainly justifies that he is still capable of handling the pressure at the biggest stage. Scoring 3 goals in as many outings in the La Liga, he is certainly growing from strength to strength.
#2 Karim Benzema
This season is going to be Benzema's tenth for Real Madrid, Florentino Perez himself went to Lyon to get the signature of the 21-year-old forward. The unquestioning support of the club president is one of the reasons due to which he is completing a decade at the club even when his stats were not up to the mark in the last couple of years.
The striker managed to score only 12 goals during last season in 47 matches and 19 goals in 48 matches in the season before that. The goal ratio was less than 0.50 in both seasons which is way too less for a Real Madrid striker. No doubt he was in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo in the past, but now is the time for him to repay for the faith that the club has shown in him continuously.
The current form definitely shows that the 30 years old striker still has the ability to perform at the highest level. He has scored 4 goals in 3 La Liga matches with a drastically improved conversion rate. He must be full of confidence while leading the line and being the target-man himself instead of being Ronaldo's wingman. This could be a very important season for him personally as well as for the team and he must perform well.
#3 Marco Asensio
Marco Asensio is one of the many youngsters who joined Real Madrid in the last few seasons. Bought for just 3.9 million Euros, he can become one of the biggest bargains in the history of the club if not the biggest. It took him only 21 minutes to score on his debut in the UEFA Super Cup two years ago. After that, he scored his debut goals in the competitions like La Liga, the Champions League, the Copa Del Ray and the Spanish Super Cup highlighting the ease of acclimatisation playing at an elite level.
At the time, his talent could not be overshadowed and his performances in the preseason certainly sealed his spot in the squad. Under Zidane, he was always a player in the making but with too many stars he had to settle on the bench on many occasions. Under Lopetegui he was a part of the Spain National Team and he has been heavily involved in this new season for Real Madrid starting all the three La Liga matches.
Starting on the left on all three occasions, Asensio can drift inside and create space in search of luck from long range which he has done so well in the past. He can create chances, dribble past the defenders with ease and can even drop back in the midfield. These signs show that he can become a complete midfielder.
Asensio is another Real Madrid player who has made a great start to the season. He has won three penalties and assisted once during this period. With his skill-set and current form, he can certainly become Real Madrid's next superstar.