Cristiano Ronaldo Slams Atletico Madrid Style, Admits Fitness Limitations

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2015

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 15: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF reacts after failing to score during the Copa del Rey Round of 16  second leg match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 15, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at the stylistic principles of Atletico Madrid, branding Diego Simeone’s side as unattractive and "defensive."

Two goals from Torres dumped Real out of the Copa.
Two goals from Torres dumped Real out of the Copa.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The Portuguese sensation was speaking in the aftermath of Los Blancos’ 4-2 aggregate defeat to their city rivals in the Copa del Rey. But while Ronaldo revealed that he’s not too keen on Atletico’s style of play, he admitted that they must be respected and that their renaissance is a positive thing for Spanish football, per Jose Luis Guerrero of AS:

Atleti don’t play attractive football. They are very defensive. They wait for dead-balls, but it works well for them. Their coach and players should be respected. ...

Atleti are a consistent team who have spent a long time together. Valencia are getting better and are a rival to watch out for. And then there are Madrid and Barcelona who are candidates for everything. This is good for La Liga.

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 15:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts beside Joao Miranda of Club Atletico de Madrid during the Copa del Rey Round of 16, Second leg match between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 15
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Ronaldo’s second-half goal failed to inspire a fightback from his team, who have found it really difficult to get the better of the Rojiblancos in recent matches. As noted by Dermot Corrigan of ESPN, this is the third competition Atletico have topped their illustrious rivals in recently:

It’s natural Ronaldo was perhaps a little frustrated in the immediate aftermath of the game. Indeed, the former Manchester United man was poor by his impeccable standards, as Atletico were again able to nullify his mercurial attacking talents in the most part. Credit for that must go to the manager.

Simeone deserves great credit for his team's display.
Simeone deserves great credit for his team's display.Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

Former Manchester United player Gary Neville had high praise for Simeone's team, whom he compared to the great Red Devils sides of the Sir Alex Ferguson era:

Perhaps another source of Ronaldo’s frustration was a problem with his fitness. He was seen looking uncomfortable throughout the match, and per Guerrero’s aforementioned piece, the Ballon d'Or winner admitted that it may take a while for him to get back to the heights he reached earlier in the season: "I’m not from another planet. Maybe I’m not in perfect condition, but I will be.

"The knee issue is in the past, I’m used to playing with pain. In two or three weeks I’ll be fine and so will the team."

Ronaldo looked uncomfortable throughout the match.
Ronaldo looked uncomfortable throughout the match.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Atletico’s mantra is something that opposition players can appreciate too. Sergio Ramos was also quizzed on the tactics implemented by Simeone’s team, but—with his defensive head on, perhaps—had nothing but kind words about their style, per Guerrero of AS:

One can’t take anything away from Atleti. The[y] know how to compete well and I’m the first to congratulate them in making it through to the quarter-finals.

We can only look at ourselves. To cast opinion, that’s what you are there for. I’ll keep things to myself. I take nothing away from them. When the season is over we’ll see [which] teams are at the top.

Ramos praised Atletico's efforts.
Ramos praised Atletico's efforts.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real have the attacking quality to get the better of teams such as Atletico, but Simeone once again seemed to harbour a hex over the Santiago Bernabeu club. There seems to be something of a psychological issue among Real's players when it comes to playing their city rivals, a notion given credence by Ronaldo’s post-match comments.

While Simeone and his wonderful side may not be to the taste their city rivals, there are plenty of football supporters on the continent who have enjoyed watching them bust open the long-standing duopoly in Spanish football. There's absolutely nothing wrong with diligent defensive effort, either.

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