Real Madrid had one of their worst seasons in 2021 with the team failing to win a single trophy in the last decade for the first time.
A lot banked on the shoulders of Cristiano Ronaldo but after his departure to Juventus, his void haunted Los Merengues in an infernal way and despite the best attempts of Zidane and the management, the team didn’t really flap their wings majestically like they always did.
Several fans question the fact that how exactly was it when Ronaldo first took the field for the Spanish giants. He was an established winger by then, and he was just stepping on the pedestal of transformation into one of the most lethal strikers of all time.
When he did step up for Madrid, it was altogether an era of bygones. It was an era where the Spanish capital was simply changing from the glorious past to a marauding future. It was an age of transition, an age of chaos and most importantly, the age of Cristiano Ronaldo.
In today’s story, we will quickly take a look at Real Madrid’s playing eleven when CR7 made his debut. This was a pre-season friendly between Madrid and Shamrock Rovers, where another debutant for Madrid, Benzema’s solitary strike, helped them to win the tie. Benzema replaced Guti, and it was his imperative touch that helped Los Merengues to clinch a victory against undercooked Rovers.
Goalkeeper: Jerzy Dudek
Dudek spent a whopping four years at the Spanish capital, and he was the back-up to the hallowed Saint Iker. Over a span of 4 years, all he could manage were 12 appearances. Despite his limited caps, he received a guard of honour from his fellow teammates after he retired. More importantly, he took up motor racing after retiring from football and was seen competing in the Volkswagen Castrol Cup.
Defenders: Miguel Torres, Pepe, Christoph Metzelder, Marcelo
Torres never really found his reckoning at the Spanish capital. He graduated from the Madrid academy and moved on to Getafe shortly. He played very limited matches, one of which was the debut clash of Ron.
Pepe wasn’t really your gentleman and definitely wasn’t the pennant-bearer of sportsman spirit. He was a brutal defender whose solitary concern was to thwart the ball from crossing the line. Despite being booked countless times, the decade that this Portuguese titan spent in the Real echelons, he ensured that his pairing with Ramos was not just one of the best but one of the most feared one in the world. His exploits for Madrid read three La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues.
Metzelder had a very ordinary outing for Real. One of the major reasons for his deviation from the towering moniker that he was always, were the frequent injuries that he copped in the following seasons. Sadly, his football woes were succeeded by a prison sentence for being alleged of distributing child pornography.
Marcelo is one of the finest left-backs for Madrid. His sumptuous first touch backed by his frequent forays in the attacking third makes him simply untenable. His glory includes four European triumphs and five La Ligas.
Midfielders: Fernando Gago, Lassana Diarra, Cristiano Ronaldo, Guti
He was an extremely gifted midfielder, but injuries played a major spoilsport in his flight on the field. Recurring injuries kept on thwarting his rise to the zenith and shortly thereafter he chose to pull the plug on his career after returning to his first club, Boca Juniors.
Diarra and Ronaldo signed on the same day, but the former fell out of favour in the opening four seasons, mainly spending time on the bench. He finally found his salvation in the Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala and then followed it up with stints at Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille and Al Jazeera.
CR7 was introduced as the venomous winger to this side, who injected a blistering bout of speed on the left wing to set Real ablaze. Sadly, he had to wait for a while to come out at his fullest potential. Apparently, what followed was stuff from folklore
Guti was an electrifying midfielder, however, his days were numbered for Madrid after the arrival of Ronaldo and Bale shortly. He spent 15 years at the Spanish capital, bagging five La Ligas and three UCL’s. He bade adieu to Los Merengues in 2012 after a glorious spell that saw him spending a year at Besiktas before hanging his boots.
Forwards: Raul and Gonzalo Higuain
Raul Gonzalez led Madrid to countless glories and by the time Ronaldo came over, he was way past his twilight. He did leave Madrid to play for Al Sadd and New York Cosmos for a couple of seasons before saying the final goodbye.
Despite all the infamy and the cuss against him, Higuain was still a phenomenal striker at the club level, bagging 122 goals for Madrid between 2007 and 2013. He then would go on to join the likes of Napoli, Chelsea and later Juventus.