Real Madrid saw their lowest home crowd since the start of the Cristiano Ronaldo era on Sunday in their first league match since selling the Portuguese superstar.
Just 48,466 fans turned out at Madrid’s 81,000-seater Santiago Bernabeu to see Julen Lopetegui’s side begin their La Liga campaign with a 2-0 victory over Getafe.
The attendance was the lowest for a La Liga game at the famous stadium since Madrid’s final home match of the 2008-09 campaign, a 3-1 defeat by Mallorca.
That match was also the last league game before Ronaldo’s £80million arrival from Manchester United in the summer of 2009 and completed a run of five straight defeats for Madrid.
However, it may not just have been Ronaldo’s departure that influenced why there was a significant lack of fans at the game on Sunday.
The league encounter kicked off at the very late local time of 10.15pm, with Toni Kroos taking to Twitter to reveal his displeasure.
The Germany international posted a picture on Twitter of him looking very bleary-eyed, alongside the caption: ‘I am happier than it seems, but usually I am asleep at this time.
With a huge number of Spanish people taking the last two weeks of August to go on holiday, Madrid were reliant on tourists to fill the stadium but with no Ronaldo and no major summer additions were unable to do so against Getafe.
Meanwhile, after nine seasons and 450 goals for Madrid, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo left to join Italian champions Juventus in an £88m deal last month.
Madrid are now tasked with finding a replacement for their former talisman’s goals with Gareth Bale now expected to step out of Ronaldo’s shadow.
The Welshman made a strong start by getting on the scoresheet along with Dani Carjaval against Getafe as Madrid began the post-Ronaldo era with three points.
Despite Ronaldo’s departure, Madrid defender Nacho believes Bale shouldn’t feel the need to replicate his former team-mate’s achievements in the Spanish capital.
‘He does not have to follow Ronaldo’s path,’ Nacho told the club’s official website, ‘As for Bale, He [Ronaldo] marked a time here.
Bale is a very important player for us and has won many things here and does not have to prove anything to anyone.
‘He has the confidence of all and surely he will do it very well. The crowd is with Bale and he is very happy at Real Madrid.’