Cristiano Ronaldo's exit is to blame for Real Madrid's underwhelming start to the 2018-19 season, according to the club's former coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo.
Ronaldo left Madrid for Juventus in July after nine hugely successful years at the Santiago Bernabeu, following coach Zinedine Zidane in leaving the Spanish capital.
Although Ronaldo put his departure down to a desire to have a new challenge, speculation has suggested it came about because of an increasingly fractious relationship with president Florentino Perez.
Either way, Madrid have not been their usual ruthless selves without him and sit fourth in LaLiga after eight matches, having not won any of their last three.
A defeat at home to Levante on Saturday will increase the pressure and potentially result in up to four more teams sitting above them in the table, and Luxemburgo is putting their struggles down to not having a player of the same calibre as Ronaldo.
"It does change. Cristiano makes all the difference," Luxemburgo – who coached Madrid in 2005 – told Omnisport.
"I've worked for Real Madrid and I know that such a special player worries opponents - big opponents.
"Real Madrid don't have a player now that makes the opponent feel they are dead. You know, that feeling of 'I have to face Cristiano Ronaldo'.
"Madrid don't have such a reference in the current squad."
While Madrid did not sign a like-for-like Ronaldo replacement, they did at least see Julen Lopetegui succeed Zidane having previously impressed with Spain, before he was sacked on the eve of the World Cup for accepting his Los Blancos role.
The pressure is on Lopetegui because of their recent poor run, but Luxemburgo – sacked in December 2005 after 11 months at the helm – thinks Perez will not make a hasty reaction.
"The pressure is always intense there," he added. "We are talking about the biggest club in the world.
"If the results aren't coming, the pressure will always be huge, but Florentino Perez is a clever and successful man, and I believe that he knew this would be a difficult season for them.
"It would never be easy to replicate the previous titles. He knew it. So, I believe that he's calm now, waiting the right time for doing more investments in the squad to make Madrid champion again."
14 de noviembre 2018
|Melvin, Snitker win manager of the year awards|
|Warriors´ Green suspended for Hawks clash|
|Asensio: It´s not for me to lead Madrid|
|Rooney ready to enjoy England farewell after pressure of ´Golden Generation´|
13 de noviembre 2018
|Ludwigsburg stun high-flying Murcia in BCL|
|Rams v Chiefs moved to LA due to Mexico City field conditions|
|Skriniar discussing new Inter contract, confirms agent|
|Former Barcelona boss Martino named MLS Coach of the Year|
|Bell fails to report to Steelers, will sit out rest of season|
|Federer back on track after dismal Thiem display|
|Udinese appoint Nicola after sacking Velazquez|
|Monaco deny they broke rules regarding youth recruitment|
|Del Bosque, Zidane, Lopetegui - The former Castilla coaches Solari follows into Real Madrid hot seat|
|Ozil rejected ´crazy offers´ from Asia, reveals agent|
|Real Madrid appoint Solari on permanent basis|
|LeVert avoids need for surgery, should return this season|
|Neuer confident despite concerns over Bayern Munich form|
|All I ever wanted to do is win, says Sixers signing Butler|
|Pogba: Coming home to United was the best feeling ever|
|Watson among four signing new Bath deals|
|Susanna Dinnage to replace Scudamore as Premier League chief executive|
|Murray commits to Brighton until 2020|
|Rooney rejected chance of pre-World Cup farewell|
|Impressive Anderson thrashes Nishikori|
|Ozil´s Germany absence a ´pity´, says Sane|
|Rooney: I´ll finish my career in the US|
|McIlroy unsure of 2019 European Tour membership|
|Australian Open dismisses concerns of Federer scheduling bias|
|Hue Jackson joins Bengals staff as ´special assistant´|
|Real Madrid confirm Reguilon injury|
|Higuain handed two-match ban for Juve meltdown|
|Kruis ruled out for England as Jones calls up uncapped quartet|
|A year on from Italy failure, Ventura leaves Chievo after four games|
|Bairstow misses out as unchanged England promote Stokes|
|Recalled Alba denies Luis Enrique bust-up|
|´Unhappy´ Christensen won´t push for Chelsea exit|
|Nadal to make Abu Dhabi comeback in December|
|Taijul helps Bangladesh tighten their grip despite Taylor ton|
|Neymar joining Real Madrid wouldn´t hurt Iniesta|
|It´s just team spirit - Livingston not worried by Durant-Green exchange|
|Trippier out of England squad with groin injury|
|Ex-Sri Lanka international Lokuhettige charged by ICC|
|Former England and Chelsea star Joe Cole retires|
|Nets offer support to LeVert following serious leg injury|
|Panenka proud Sergio Ramos imitates his penalties|
|Liverpool´s Alisson seeks patience to reach potential|
|Anthony Davis leads Pelicans, Clippers hold off Warriors in OT|
|Lindelof rues international break for Man Utd|
|Shaqiri confident in more goals for Liverpool|
|Giants too good for 49ers in crunch time|
|Southgate named honorary Yorkshireman|
|Nicky Butt: Manchester United are low on confidence|
|Criticism of Barcelona star Dembele is overblown - agent|
|Thibodeau discusses Butler trade: We thought this was the best deal for us|
|Acuna, Ohtani win rookie of the year awards|
|LeBron James on Lakers’ early season struggles: ‘I almost cracked’|
|Welbeck has successful second operation on broken ankle|
|UEFA warns FFP cases can be reopened based on ´new information´|
12 de noviembre 2018
|Foakes to keep England place for second Test|
|WATCH: Rooney looking sharp in England training return|
|Mbappe: Money in football is truly indecent|
|Djokovic back to brilliant best as Isner is beaten|
|Celta Vigo replace Mohamed with Cardoso after Real Madrid defeat|
|Joshua intrigued by Usyk, says Hearn|
|Ibrahimovic beats Rooney to MLS Newcomer award|
|Rams WR Kupp out for season with torn ACL|
|Sturridge denies ever gambling on football following FA charge|
|Koeman understands De Ligt´s Eredivisie frustrations|
|Jimmy Butler trade: 76ers acquire Timberwolves star in blockbuster deal|
|´Improve your attitude´ - Deschamps issues Dembele warning|