Real Madrid’s miserable season continued on Saturday afternoon as they suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat away at Eibar.
Despite the fact Eibar currently find themselves in the top half of La Liga, this is a fixture that a club of Madrid’s stature should be winning comfortably.
But in Santiago Solari’s first match since becoming the Spanish giant’s permanent manager earlier this month, Los Blancos were humiliated at the Estadio Municipal de Ipurua.
Gonzalo Escalante broke the deadlock in the 16th minute before two goals in five second-half minutes from Sergi Enrich and Kike made it 3-0 to the hosts.
Solari sent on Isco and Vinicius Junior in the hope of salvaging something from the match but to no avail. After 13 games, Madrid subsequently find themselves sixth in La Liga with a pitiful goal difference - by their lofty standards - of +1.
There’s little doubt that Madrid would be much higher up the table had they kept their talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward, who averaged 50 goals a season during his nine-year stint at the Bernabeu, would always produce the goods for Madrid when they needed him most.
Selling the 33-year-old to Juventus for £100 million may have seemed like good business to Florentino Perez in the summer, but the Madrid president is surely ruing that decision now.
Hours after Madrid’s latest defeat, Ronaldo celebrated reaching 10 goals in all competitions for Juve by scoring against SPAL, further highlighting what a huge mistake Perez made by allowing him to join the Turin-based outfit.
Perez, like a lot of Madrid fans, expected Gareth Bale to step up and become the club’s main man following Ronaldo’s departure.
The Welshman has shown plenty of glimpses of his world-class ability during his previous five seasons at the Bernabeu and, of course, was the hero in Madrid’s Champions League triumph over Liverpool back in May.
But his performances, if anything, have suffered without Ronaldo. Five goals in 16 matches simply isn’t a good enough return from a player with his talents.
Spanish football journalist Lee Roden dropped the truth about Bale (and Ronaldo) on Twitter during Madrid’s defeat against Eibar.
“Also, again, where is Gareth Bale?” he asked. “This was supposed to be his big chance to prove he's a true elite forward now Cristiano is gone.
“Doesn't have the personality for it (something overlooked in true winners like Cristiano is they keep going, keep believing they can change a game).”
That’s a damning assessment of Bale’s mentality but, the truth is, it’s very hard to disagree with it.
Would Madrid be in this mess with Ronaldo still at the club? No, he would have made sure they would be winning games like this, even if it meant dragging his team to victory single-handedly.
Bale, on the other hand, continues to disappear when his team need him most.
“So much more is expected of the Welshman,” the Real Madrid fan-run website Managing Madrid wrote of the former Tottenham star, who was handed 3/10 rating, following the match.
“Has not been good enough this season and patience is waning thin for Madrid fans.”