Real Madrid are still counting the cost of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus, says Bernd Schuster, with the Blancos considered to have “lacked a No.9 for two years”.
A five-time Ballon d’Or winner bid farewell to Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of 2018.
Ronaldo took the decision to bring the curtain down on a record-breaking spell in the Spanish capital as a new challenge was embraced in Italy.
Replacing an all-time great was never going to be easy for Real, and they have found it difficult to fill some sizeable boots.
The likes of Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard have struggled for form and fitness, with Karim Benzema often left to carry the burden of providing attacking inspiration by himself.
Schuster admits that Madrid are paying the price for failing to find suitable cover for Ronaldo, with collective standards being allowed to dip.
The former Blancos and Barcelona midfielder feels similar issues are being endured at Camp Nou, as the Blaugrana scratch around for consistency, and two La Liga heavyweights are expected to crash and burn in Europe.
Schuster told reporters at the Nacex Challenge: “In general, we are seeing a lazy season, quite poor, and I don't think we will see a Spanish winner in the Champions League.
“We didn't believe in Bayern Munich recently and now you see that they have become very good again.
“The problem for Real Madrid is that they have lacked a No.9 for two years since Cristiano left.”
Zinedine Zidane’s side suffered a 2-1 Champions League last-16 defeat to Manchester City in their most recent outing, with ex-Barca boss Pep Guardiola returning to haunt them once again – along with reported target Raheem Sterling.
Schuster added: “Sterling came back from an injury, but he is a player who can mess with you. His introduction gave something to his team and nothing happened on the other side.”
Next up for Real is a Clasico clash with Barcelona on Sunday, but Schuster is not expecting fireworks from either side in that contest.
The German added: “I want to see this game but we are also in a phase of the season where a draw could be a good result, and I don't like that.
“Both teams have problems and it will be interesting to see who is more animated, although the one playing at home has a small advantage.”
Real will be on home soil this weekend, with the Blancos seeking to bridge the two-point gap which separates them from Barca and move back to the top of the Liga standings.