Real Madrid scored four without Ronaldo; bad math says it should continue playing without him

Get it, Karim! Nothing says “our superstar is overrated” that than a type of strike normally associated with Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s recently-suspended star. But with the Ballon d’Or winner out for two games, El Real’s other star-worthy talents put on a show against La Real Sociedad, taking advantage of David Moyes’s trademark conservatism to put up a 4-1 win at the Bernabéu.

It wasn’t an unexpected result, and with such a small sample, it’s impossible to say whether Spain’s leaders are better without it’s best talent. But if you’re inclined to entertain that seemingly bizarre premise (that Real Madrid may be better without Ronaldo), the math is on your side, even if basic statistical principles are not.

Consider the 98 minutes Madrid have played since Ronaldo tried to slug Córdoba’s Edimar last Saturday:

– Real Madrid has a +5 goal difference. In the 98 preceding minutes (extending back into El Real’s visit to Getafe two weeks ago), Madrid was only +1 (2-1). That’s pretty clear-cut, people.
– During that time, non-Ronaldo players had scored one. Since, they’ve scored five times, including Gareth Bale’s game-winner at Córdoba, scored after El Real had been reduced to 10 men. Implication: a 10-man Madrid without Ronaldo is better than 10+CR7.
– Bale, James Rodríguez, Sergio Ramos, and Karim Benzema have all scored in the last 98 minutes. The only one of those to score during the “Ronaldo 98” was Benzema, whose doubled his goal total with Ronaldo out.

The contrast is even more stark on the team-level:

– If Real Madrid was allowed to perform at this non-Ronaldo rate, it would finish a 38-game season with 174 goals and a +140 goal difference. Right now, the team’s on pace for 129 goals and a +97 difference – absolutely pathetic totals. La Liga should really worry about Madrid coming to its senses and selling Cristiano in the offseason.
– Even more telling, Real Madrid has claimed six out of six points since Cristiano Ronaldo drew his red card. That’s 114 points over the course of a season. The Ronaldo-tainted Blancos are only on pace for 97 points. That’s at least a 17-point difference.

Sample size is for weaklings who don’t recognize the truth, the type of people who would rather stay indoors and play chess than learn life’s hard lessons on the playground. Sure, we could look at other times Real Madrid’s played without Ronaldo, consider the strength of opposition, or actually talk to some nerd that can figure out when a sample has enough power to have any relevance. We could also actually talk to somebody who’s, like, a soccer expert, or something, but that all sounds dumb.

Fact: Over the last 98 minutes, Real Madrid has six points, five goals, and has only one allowed. Another fact: It’s done all that without its precious Ronaldo.

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