Atletico's Antoine Griezmann smiles during a training session at the Lillekula Stadium, a day ahead of UEFA Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
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Cristiano Ronaldo's departure from Real Madrid has left a gaping hole at Real Madrid and in the Spanish league.So Ronaldo's departure appears to have given Barcelona free reign to increase its almost perennial hold on the Spanish league title.Constantly being compared and measured against one another, Lionel Messi and Ronaldo pushed each other to ever greater heights.Now Messi, Barcelona and the Spanish league face the pair of "clasico" matches without Ronaldo dressed in white.Messi has helped Barcelona win nine Spanish league titles in the past 14 seasons, including last year when the Catalan club lost only once in 38 matches.Barcelona has brought in midfielders Arturo Vidal and Arthur, defender Clement Lenglet, and winger Malcom, and it looks to give more of a leading role to Philippe Coutinho as its playmaker for Messi and Luis Suarez.The 33-year-old Ronaldo's departure leaves Madrid without its all-time leading scorer -- 451 goals in 438 matches -- and the main engine behind its run of three straight Champions League titles.
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