Real Madrid are through to the next round of Champions League, after they beat Napoli again, this time in their second leg in Naples. They are through, but no thanks to Ronaldo. This time it took 2 goals from their captain to turn around the negative score from the halftime. It’s been a long debate whether Cristiano Ronaldo’s level has started decreasing. Some will say it’s a strange debate considering that we are talking about the player current rated as world’s no. 1, but there are some obvious signs that he is coming short of his skills.
Aged 32, Ronaldo is starting to show the evident signs of inevitable loss in race against the time. It’s the one battle everyone will lose! And Ronaldo started losing it. Is it that obvious, you might start to wonder? All the fans of Portuguese superstar will surely disagree with this and say that only a Ronaldo critic could write such nonsense, but stats don’t lie. He is becoming more of a burden for Madrid powerhouse than the leverage that he used to be.
Florentino Perez, an obvious admirer of Portuguese, is still turning a blind eye to this fact (at least until Real have the result). He is still hoping that his recent loss of form could be only temporary thing. Could be that he is right. But curious case of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his legendary form (even an improved set of skills in the last 5 years) at the age of 35 is rather an anomaly, not the rule.
Ronaldo, as good as he is, is costing Real more than he brings them at this point. His runs from deep, bursts of energy and long-goal attempts are long gone. Well, long-distance goals may be gone, but his attempts are what’s causing the headache to his coach and fans. His crazy obsession for personal stats is still there, but out of the recently he needs more attempts to preserve his goal scoring ratio. The result – the whole team must suffer because of that!
There is an ever-present feeling that Ronaldo keeps playing for himself and his stats. His goal ratio largely decreased and his changed position within the team allows him to play as a classical striker, not as midfielder he once was. As Bale recently stated, he is still ”a great player” even through his position and playing style has been changed. When your teammate and a team leading-star contender publicly goes out with this, it usually means that not everything is alright.
Madrid players know that they are paying the price of Ronaldo stats and they are less than happy about it. Playing with the global icon and current Ballon d’Or holder means that you are not allowed to complain – you are second best to him. That’s the position Ronaldo bases his stand upon. It’s a whole different question, how long Real players will keep up with that?
If he can rediscover his magic touch, he will be granted his attempts in order to keep everyone happy – he will have his goals and Real will have the titles. It’s a win-win scenario. But if his struggles continue, it will be whole another story and we can expect a storm to start. Perez is not being too sentimental when it comes to superstars. He replaces them easily and in his eyes this Madrid’s team has been the same for too long.
Furthermore, Ronaldo is suffering all sorts of minor injuries, as a result of his age and ”must play every game” attitude. You can play as much as your body allows you to. Again, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an exception and a rare curious case. Ronaldo never took enough time to completely recover himself and all sorts of small injuries took their toll on his form.
Messi’s also lost some of his attributes, but gained others. His natural gift to see what other people can’t and to move where other people wouldn’t allows him to acquire new set of skills practically every new season. But than again, that’s Messi, just another curious case which should be observed as an anomaly, not as a rule.
Ronaldo’s physique allowed him to do things that he now can’t do, for the very same reason – his physical condition changed in time. He was always best-known for the crazy amount of goals he was scoring. Once the ball stopped going into the net, everyone started doubting. Well, we are talking about the same player from the past decade, but it’s obvious that the time caught up with him.
He is sensibly affecting Real Madrid stats. As stats show, Real Madrid won every game, apart from the draw a second leg of Copa del Rey vs. Sevilla, with Ronaldo out of the team. The result was 3:3, after Real had won their first leg 3:0. On the other hand, the only 3 defeats that Real suffered this season came with Ronaldo on the field. What’s more symptomatic is that he scored in 2 of those matches, meaning that the team played for him. He has become Real Madrid’s liability.
And, now, Ronaldo needs those very same players he wasn’t celebrating their goals with. He needs them to lift him up. Without the strength of a whole Real Madrid team to back him up, he can’t deliver simply on his own any more. Those days are all over now.
Until Real Madrid have the results going their way everything will be alright to the eye. But if the opposite happens, well, let’s just say that it will be interesting observing what will pop-out.
Time will tell how much ammunition fading Ronaldo has got left, but it’s Perez who will tell how his main star fit into his transfer plans.