Summer vacation start early this year for Cristiano Ronaldo. No Champions League final, the league title is nearly out of grasp. No World Cup or Euro to play in. More time to spend with her and watch some tennis from the Madrid Open.
I wonder how he feels, about the whole Messi comparison. We know how he feels about the Barcelona matter, which rose to even greater proportions than usual this year and past month, with the overflow of Clasicos, controversies and Jose Mourinho press conferences.
After his incredible 2007-2008 season, while Barcelona were struggling in their final Frank Rijkaard days, Cristiano Ronaldo looked primed to be the best in the world for years and years. Being so dominant in the Premier League, the best in the world (which has declined since his departure), scoring 31 league goals and a total of 66 in his final three league campaigns with United, despite all the antagonism he created, it was hard to find anyone to dispute his claim to the world number 1.
Then came Guardiola, and turned Barcelona in the finest tuned machine of soccer in the world. Barcelona always were sort of the neutrals favorite over Real Madrid, that was always my perception. Real mean success, and even though success gets you fans, it also gets you plenty of haters. Especially when the success seems to be achieved by money and power, not ‘ideology’. The fact is that Real Madrid’s two consecutive league titles came after the Galacticos project was declared a failure and the team was actually built in a sound and balanced.
The rise of Barcelona in 2009 meant Real turned back to those ways, with Florentino Perez capturing the presidency once again. Cristiano Ronaldo seemed bound to the Blancos for a few years and after 2008-2009, the deal was inevitable and finally sealed, making Ronaldo the most expensive and highest paid soccer player in the world.
Personally, I’ve never liked him or at least the perception of the human being he seems to be. Just by taking his comment after winning all those awards after 2008 – “I should have won first, second and third place seriously, you can’t like the guy. Seeing him swapping models, his bitchin’ little boy behavior on the pitch at times, spitting at the camera after the World Cup exit – not exactly a classy role model.
As a player, he’s perfect. Yes, perfect, something even Lionel Messi isn’t. His speed, strength, shooting ability with both feet from pretty much anywhere on the pitch. Aerial game, passing ability. His constant threat on goal. Always going for one more. You can’t dream of anything else. Sure, it doesn’t always work, but Ronaldo’s numbers, 75 goals in 90 matches since arriving at Madrid, you can’t ask for more.
If Ronaldo was on the losing side in the Lionel Messi popularity contest before Jose Mourinho arrived, the self proclaimed ‘special one’ wasn’t about to make it better. The good – They seem to have connected. All player seem to connect with Mourinho and give them their all. I think Mourinho even tried to change the fact that having Cristiano Ronaldo means you need your entire game to go through him. It succeeded to a certain extent. It didn’t get him over the Barcelona hurdle.
Real Madrid, especially with their backs against the wall, are totally reliant on Ronaldo’s ability to create something for himself. It reminds me of basketball, when final plays are drawn up for the usual suspects. And that’s where the big difference between him and Messi come in to play. Messi might be the big finisher for Barcelona, but I don’t believe he’d be this good and productive if it wasn’t for Iniesta and Xavi. Argentina national team anyone?
During the recent Mourinho – Guardiola wars, Ronaldo seemed to be the only Real Madrid player to follow his manager in comments and attitude. The “we’ve been robbed” signs and attitude was probably flowing across the squad, but Ronaldo showed it the best. The frustration was exploding in the final match, when a Ronaldo fall after being fouled dropped Mascherno and wrongly got Higuain’s opener disallowed.
Despite all the anguish and anger, Real’s season is pretty much over. There’s still that tiny chance they get some miracle divine intervention to get them the La Liga title. Unlikely, nearly impossible. Summer without big tournaments means more time to delve into transfer rumors and possible changes. I’m sure Real, despite having an All-Star squad, will be deeply involved. I also wonder how much of the resentment and feeling of being “robbed” by anyone and everyone will linger over the summer, and effect Ronaldo and Real Madrid towards the next season.