Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 13 goals in 16 games for Real Madrid this season, which to the casual observer, seems like a decent return for the Portuguese superstar.
It is in fact far below the ridiculously high standards he has set for himself, and, when looked at more closely, nowhere near what is expected of him. Ronaldo has not scored in his last three games, and, incredibly, has failed to find the net on TEN occasions this season; with eight of his thirteen goals coming in successive games against Espanyol and Shakhtar Donetsk back in September.
Since the Shakhtar game, Real have dropped 10 points in the La Liga, drawing 0-0 at home to Malaga, conceding a late equaliser to allow Atletico to snatch a point at the Vicente Calderon, losing 3-2 at Sevilla before being drubbed 4-0 by Barcelona at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo has looked a shadow of his former self in recent weeks, alternating between forlorn, as he was when Real went down 3-2 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and frustrated. His frustration has boiled over at times this season, and he was lucky not to be sanctioned for a kick out at a Las Palmas player at the end of October, and really ought to have been punished for an elbow to the head of Dani Alves on Saturday night.
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So what has happened to the Ronaldo that loved to make the difference in the big games? Here are a few possible reasons for his dip in form.
Injuries / Burn out
Ronaldo is a phenomenal athlete, but he is 31 in February and rarely misses a game for club or country. He has recently admitted that he is still feeling after effects of a knee injury that troubled him before the World Cup in 2014, stating:
“There is not a single day without pain”
Could the sheer amount of games he has played finally be catching up with his aging body? Is the realisation he is no longer invincible the source of his frustration?
Ronaldo split from his girlfriend of five years, Victoria’s Secret model Irina Shayk, around Christmas 2014. It was around this time Ronaldo’s form started to decline, while rival Lionel Messi’s went in the opposite direction, leading Barcelona to the treble. Ronaldo is a professional, but also a human being, and it is difficult not to allow upheaval in your personal life to affect your work environment, especially one as high pressured as the Santiago Bernabeu. Ronaldo’s sister said the former couple’s separation was “like a death”. He may still have regrets, and that his ex moved on pretty quickly may not help matters either.
Gareth Bale / Ronaldo’s Ego
Ronaldo loves the limelight, and he won’t have been happy with Gareth Bale replacing him as the most expensive player of all time. Almost immediately there were reports of the €100 million transfer causing friction, despite Bale’s attempts to play it down. Ronaldo has on occasion accused Bale of refusing to pass to him, and there is clearly little chemistry between the two players. Bale is the jewel in the crown of the president, Florentino Perez, as he negotiated the transfer, and he insists he will not be sold. Ronaldo always wants to be top dog, and Bale’s presence has clearly irked him to some extent.
Ronaldo has not got on with Real manager (at the time of writing) Rafa Benitez from the very beginning, criticizing his training methods early on. He has also torn into Benitez’s perceived defensive tactics, saying they don’t get the best out of the world class players available to him, Ronaldo included. He has reportedly twice went to the president, Perez, with an ultimatum: either Benitez goes or I do. On this matter, Ronaldo may well get his way, as Benitez has also proven unpopular with other senior squad members. But, no so soon, as Perez on the last press conference stated that Benitez has a full support of Real Madrid’s board. Will this mean that Ronaldo possible could move out from Madrid? Time will tell.
Perhaps Ronaldo feels he has done all he can at Real Madrid, especially as he has overhauled Raul’s all time goalscoring record for the club this season. He may want to experience life in a new country or test himself in a new league. If that is the case the most likely destination is PSG, where winning the Champions League would be heralded as a huge achievement, but if Ronaldo were to join, would also be a distinct possibility. A glorious homecoming at Old Trafford is the only other transfer I could envisage, and he could inspire the Red Devils to the sort of level they were at before the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. I cannot see Ronaldo leaving the Bernabeu for any other destinations.
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The Ugly side of Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano worked hard to be where he’s currently. There is no person in world who doesn’t know who’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Sure there are people which like him or don’t like him, something like with Jose Mourinho. But it’s obvious this season that Ronaldo is not at his best. Most likely the problem was his personal life (Irina) as he has shown a few time that he’s only an ordinary man, who could lose his temper, if things don’t go as planned.
Watch Videos below to see Ronaldo’s bad side…
Cristiano Ronaldo winning the Ballon d’Or 2013/2014: Ok Ronaldo, Messi has won four in a row. Your hard work payed off. You deserved this award, but show some respect to Messi and Ribery. Video which went viral, and not for the good reasons.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s tantrums v Malaga: Well it’s one thing to show desperation on the pitch, but how does this reflects to his teammates, as before all football is team-game, so why to put yourself in the first plan.
Cristiano Ronaldo v Sevilla: Ok, Cristiano, yes, Sevilla pulled a comeback, of course you’re not happy, but again, why to put yourself in the first plan. Think about what you’re saying to your team-mates with all this. Sometimes, you have to admit, like Sevilla was better, we can lose as well.
Cristiano Ronaldo kicking Las Palmas midfielder David Simon: Real Madrid fan or not, you have to admit that under Jose Mourinho’s era in Madrid, the Los Blancos played a little “dirty”. Just remember how much yellow and red cards they picked. Now compare the same with the time under Ancelotti or Benitez. Before all, focus on Real Madrid’s Pepe. It could be that Ronaldo has picked and remembered few things from Mourinho’s era?
Cristiano Ronaldo v Sergio Ramos: Once again, football is a team-game. When your captain speaks, you listen. Arrogancy at his best. Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal v Israel: He tried and failed, but Oh’ come on Ronaldo, what was that? Cristiano Ronaldo vs Cordoba: Again, hitting in the face! Again, you’re a superstar, watch what you’re doing! Cristiano Ronaldo elbows Dani Alves : It’s a wonder how Ronaldo wasn’t sent off. Most likely because he’s a big name and he got a “pass”, but this again shows his frustrations. Remember Ronaldo, there are tons of kids admiring you all over the world, be careful of what you’re doing, they will pick it up as well.
Whatever the cause of Ronaldo’s unhappiness, and it is probably a combination of factors, both Real Madrid and Portugal will hope he is able to resolve his issues in the near future. Football fans all over the world hope it is not the start of an irreversible decline of one of the greatest players ever to play the game.