Cristiano Ronaldo would have made Real Madrid favourites to overturn a first-leg deficit in their Champions League tie against Manchester City, according to Emmanuel Adebayor.
Los Blancos lost 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the last-16 clash at the back end of February, with the return meeting postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Madrid were outstanding when LaLiga resumed in June, though, winning 10 and drawing their final game en route to beating Barcelona to the title, their first since the 2016-17 season.
Former City and Madrid striker Adebayor says Zinedine Zidane’s side still have the players capable of turning the tie around but the presence of Ronaldo – who won the Champions League four times with the Spanish club before departing for Juventus in 2018 – would have significantly increased their chances.
“If you had asked me that question two years ago, I would have said yes [Madrid can turn the tie around],” Adebayor told AS.
“Madrid would have been favourites with Cristiano. Back then, they had Cristiano, who is a goal machine. He can make the difference at any moment and he would give the team 50 goals a season.
“They lost the first leg at home and it’s going to be very difficult without the fans, against Manchester City, the city, the weather but it’s not impossible.
“Madrid have players with a lot of experience like Marcelo, [Karim] Benzema, [Thibaut] Courtois and they are used to playing in big games like this one.”
Adebayor believes Madrid did not fully appreciate how difficult it would be to replace a player such as Ronaldo, who became the club’s record goalscorer during nine prolific seasons.
“Without Cristiano, Madrid know what they have lost, but maybe not what they could have won if he was still there,” he added.
“I think maybe they thought they would get another player like Ronaldo but players like him only come along once every 200 years.”
Karim Benzema has taken on much of the scoring burden and has surpassed 20 LaLiga goals in the past two seasons.
Adebayor says the French striker is crucial to Madrid, saying: “When Ronaldo left, he had to take up the responsibility and I think he’s done really well.
“He’s scored a lot of goals, important goals so he’ll be a danger, no doubt about it.”
Adebayor’s stint in the Spanish capital was a short one and game time was limited under Jose Mourinho. However, he has nothing but fond memories of the Portuguese coach, describing him as the best ever.
“I love Mourinho, we had a great relationship and he was the one who brought me to Madrid, although it wasn’t easy for him to find a place for me in the side,” he said.
“The only trophy I have ever won was at Madrid with him. Now he’s at Tottenham and I wish him the best of luck. He is the best coach in the history of football.”