Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to direct blame for Real Madrid's La Liga woes toward his teammates on Saturday, claiming "if everyone was at my level, perhaps we would be first," before he later backtracked from those comments.
Madrid suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to city rival Atletico -- Antoine Griezmann scoring the only goal at the Bernabeu -- to remain nine points behind first-place Barcelona ahead of the Catalans' clash with Sevilla on Sunday, while Los Blancos are now four adrift of second-place Atleti.
With supporters protesting against president Florentino Perez, it made for a miserable afternoon for Ronaldo and coach Zinedine Zidane.
"If everyone was at my level, perhaps we would be first," Ronaldo told Cope. "You [reporters] think I am [expletive], if I read what the press says. The statistics are there."
Speaking to Marca later, Ronaldo attempted to clarify his comments, saying that he was speaking about his teammates' physical levels and not their levels of performance on the field.
"I meant the physical level, I am no better than anyone else," Ronaldo told the Madrid-based newspaper. "When I say that I mean the physical level, not in the game. I am not better than any of my teammates."
Madrid was missing several first-team regulars Saturday, including Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Pepe, while Karim Benzema was forced off through injury at halftime.
"If a team does not play with its best players it is difficult to win, but I do not want to belittle anyone," Ronaldo said. "I do like playing with Karim, Bale and Marcelo, but I am not saying that the others are not good. Danilo, for example, was the best player on the field [on Saturday]."
Despite the large points difference to Barca, Ronaldo said there would be no let-up from Madrid.
"We will not give up," he said. "We still have to compete. We had more opportunities [against Atletico] but we must carry on."