Madrid: Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo appeared unhappy with his teammates and the media after the loss to city rivals Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium here on Saturday night.
Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the game as Atletico Madrid cemented their grip on the second spot with 58 points from 26 matches, five points behind league leaders FC Barcelona.
Third-placed Real on the other hand, virtually kissed their title chances goodbye as they slipped nine points behind arch-rivals Barcelona with 12 games in hand.
"It annoys me that they say that Cristiano has dropped his level, and that is why Madrid have dropped their level. If the whole team was in my level, we'd be first," Ronaldo told the local media after the game.
"I don't want to disrespect anyone, but when the best players aren't available it's harder to win. I like to play with Karim (Benzema), with (Gareth) Bale, with Marcelo.
"I'm not saying the others like Lucas (Vazquez), Jesse and (Mateo) Kovacic are not good players -- they are very good players -- but it's not the same," he added.
The 31-year-old sought to clarify his remarks later telling Spanish daily Marca,"When I say that, I am talking about my fitness level, not my level as a player. I am no better than any of my team-mates."
The prolific forward also hit out at the media for persistent criticism of his form.
"For all you guys it seems I am s***, but I don't listen to what the press say. The statistics and numbers don't lie."
"A lot of times you are unfair, you ask me (tough) questions and you question my value. It's always been like this in Spain, all these years," he added.
Real were without several key players for Saturday's clash, with star winger Gareth Bale, central defender Pepe and Brazilian full back Marcelo missing from their line-up. Centre-forward Karim Benzema also had to come off at half-time because of injury.
"We had more chances than Atletico and we deserved to win. I don't think it's a lack of preparation, but we have a lot of injuries who cost us. I don't know why we have so many injuries. Maybe because of the preparation at the beginning of the season, or pre-season?" Ronaldo lamented.
"Unfortunately, we are without our best players. That makes things more difficult."
"We will keep fighting, but we have more hopes in the Champions League," he added. "It's a competition we start from scratch like everyone else. But, like I said, if you don't have the best players, you are not going to win it."