Ronaldo bemoaned the necessity to use squad players against Atleti due to the absence of Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Pepe through injury, saying "it's not the same" when the likes of Lucas Vazquez, Jese and Mateo Kovacic are in the matchday squad, per Marca (via Sky Sports' Pete Hall).
Ronaldo also claimed "if we were all at my level, maybe we would be leaders," and Mestre does not think any Barca players would speak in such a way, no matter the situation, per Marca: "Our team's players would never say what Cristiano said. The club monitors a lot of things before signing players. Honestly, I could not imagine one of our players saying what Cristiano said."
Was Ronaldo right to publicly criticise his team-mates after the Madrid derby defeat?
Luis Enrique's side beat Sevilla 2-1 on Sunday to move eight points clear of second-placed Atletico and 12 points clear of Real in the Liga table.
Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal in the Madrid derby at the Santiago Bernabeu to effectively end Real's title bid.
Indeed, it would take something of a miracle for Barca to be caught in the title race, but Mestre warned against any complacency, per Marca: "It's three more points. La Liga is not won at the end of February. That's not a cliche, it's true because we could slip up and I'm sure Real Madrid will bounce back. There are no free meals here."
Bleacher Report's Dean Jones believes Ronaldo was right to call out his team-mates and said that some of Real's squad players are not stepping up:
However, there will no doubt be many who believe Ronaldo should have kept his criticism inside the dressing room rather than making his point known in the media.
The 31-year-old Portuguese clarified his comments later on and said he "was referring to the physical level, not level of play," per Marca (via Hall).
However, it is noticeable that Real are far less effective without Bale and Karim Benzema—the Frenchman was forced off injured at half time on Saturday—partnering Ronaldo in attack.
Marcelo was also a big miss as Ronaldo's "usual conspirator on the left hand side," per ESPN FC's Rob Train.
The former Manchester United man was arguably Real's best player against Atleti, but he continues to be largely ineffective in front of goal against the bigger sides in La Liga, per Sky Sports Statto:
.@Cristiano Ronaldo in 2015-16 La Liga— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) February 27, 2016
Record v teams currently in top 5 - 0 goals (5 apps)
Record v rest of the teams - 22 goals (21 apps)
The defeat to Atleti may have ended Real's title hopes, but they are still very much alive in the UEFA Champions League and will surely now put all their efforts into winning an 11th European Cup.