With Real Madrid failing to sign an adequate successor for Cristiano Ronaldo, they have struggled without their club-record goalscorer in 2018/19, and manager Zinedine Zidane has now insisted the Portuguese is irreplaceable.
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Ahead of their game against Leganes on Monday night, Los Blancos sit 14 points behind bitter rivals FC Barcelona in the LaLiga standings with almost no hope of lifting the league title this season.
In addition, they were also knocked out of the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey earlier than expected, which means the FIFA Club World Cup will likely be the only piece of silverware – should they win it – added to the club's trophy cabinet in the 2018/19 campaign.
Real have not bought a big-name replacement for Ronaldo since he departed for Juventus in a deal worth €100 million (R1.58 billion), plus add-ons, ahead of this campaign, and Zidane has now hinted that it might have been a mistake to sell the Portuguese superstar.
"You can do what you want but you can't replace Cristiano," he said, as quoted by Marca.
"He's gone but we can bring in other players that aren't going to do what Cristiano has done. That's life."
In Ronaldo's absence, Karim Benzema has stepped up and is Real's top goalscorer in 2018/19 so far, netting 26 goals across all competitions, which has earned special praise from his coach.
"Benzema is compatible with everyone because he can bring all the good players together," Zidane added.
"Karim is a different player, he's not a typical No. 9. When I saw him start, he was playing more in midfield and out wide.
"He knows that he can do many things, he can score like a No. 9 and he can do link-up play."
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