Real Madrid Opens Post-Ronaldo Era With Lowest LaLiga Attendance In 9 Seasons

Atlanta United almost drew a larger crowd for Sunday’s match against the Columbus Crew.

Last night, Real Madrid started its 2018-19 LaLiga campaign off right with a win over Getafe. Goals from Gareth Bale and Dani Carvajal were enough to lift Juan Lopetegui’s side over the Azulones as they cruised to a comfortable victory.

On the pitch, it was business as usual, but in the stands something was amiss — that something being a few thousand Madridistas and the casuals one might expect to show up for the club’s home opener. Just 48,466 people were in attendance at the Bernabeau (capacity: 81,044). It’s not really the number one might expect for a club with the history, pedigree and star power of Los Blancos. So, what happened?

Of course, the transfer;  that transfer happened, the one which has consumed your newsfeed and the one you want everyone to shut up about already. Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus has changed quite a bit at Madrid and it’s not just the style of play that seems to have been affected. (It's also worth noting that the kick-off time did fans no favors: a Sunday night match beginning at 10:15 p.m. local time.)

To find a time when Los Blancos played in front of such a meager crowd in their own house, you would have to go alll the way back to the last game of the 2008-09 season. That match was part of an uncharacteristic five-game losing streak for Real, including a 6-2 dismantling at the hands of Barcelona.

The culmination of that season was concerning enough for the board to make a big decision for the club’s future a few months later and in a big way, coming in the form of record-breaking signing Cristiano Ronaldo. From there, well, the rest is history.

The Ronaldo era brought four UEFA Champions League crowns and two LaLiga titles to Madrid, plus all the energy, fanfare, jersey sales and, of course, ticket sales that follow with having one of the most talented athletes and biggest celebrities in the world.

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The empty seats at the Bernabeau yesterday were a reminder of the chapter that has come to a close. Real, it seems, will be destined to come up short if it seeks to find someone to replace the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who posted alien-like statistics during his time at the club, but Real has more than enough talent within its ranks to make up for a lot of what it lost in CR7.

Bale has been fantastic so far and Vinicius Jr. has been very promising in the moments he's been given a chance. 

Undoubtedly, in these next few weeks, there will be some experimenting and adjusting in Madrid. The media has already been quick to criticize the club’s struggles post-Ronaldo, particularly after a loss to cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid earlier this week in the UEFA Super Cup.

Life after Ronaldo has been and will be different. He was a larger than life player and personality whose gravitational force changed many things around him on the field. However, if there’s an organization out there that loves to figure out a way to win and win big, it’s Real Madrid, so, make no mistake, don’t write them off.

They will be back at home on September 1 and will be hoping to get another win — and maybe a few more fans — when they take on Leganes.

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