The most incredible thing about the disastrous finish Real Madrid & Cristiano Ronaldo had? The red card the Portuguese star received in the Cup Final was of the kind only supreme athletes can get. Few players have the ability to be fouled from behind, do a reverse half somersault while falling on their backs and still manage to be quick enough in body and mind to try and kick the head of an opposing player.
Sometimes, talent is used for evil instead of good. The dark side is always more tempting. And Ronaldo, who has done so well to turn away from those “temptations” since Jose Mourinho arrived, went back to his old self in one night of frustration, when all the “great work” done by his manager came to full fruition as he was sent off and the team lost a derby match for the first time in 14 years, missing out on the only thing separating them from officially declaring the 2012-2013 season as a total failure, which it was even with the Copa Del Rey.
Like in true Ronaldo fashion, he actually scored quite soon (again with supreme athleticism), and then disappeared for the rest of the match. Hardly involved in build ups or attempted finishes, Ronaldo seems to be a much better player when he doesn’t score early. The hunger remains, and he tries to get himself involved in more than just shooting at goal. Against Atletico, a frustration was building up in him (and other players as well) that prevented him from doing the right things, going for the complicated instead of the simple, which is always a sign of Ronaldo having a bad day.
Is Ronaldo’s season a failure? It can’t be; not with 33 league goals to show. But the tenure as a whole? Ronaldo has scored 201 goals in 199 matches for the club. Individually, you can’t ask for anything better. But Ronaldo’s Real Madrid has won only one league title in four years; never reached the Champions League final; and has one Copa Del Rey trophy which they are embarrassingly so proud of, showing just how trying to persuade the media can be an embarrassment some time.
Things fell apart in the end. Jose Mourinho has gone into full implosion mode, and lost Ronaldo along the way. He benched Pepe for not receiving the kind of support he expected from him, and lost Ronaldo’s support along the way, although there were issues this season a little bit earlier. It doesn’t matter. Ronaldo can play unhappy, can play angry and through a lot of negative things and can still be the best player out there.
Now it’s back to an agonizing summer, with disappointment in the back of the mind, while transfer rumors from Paris and Manchester come bombarding down every headline he sees. Will he be part of another insanely expensive deal? It’s hard to think of anyone paying that kind of sum once again, but stranger things have happened. Real Madrid seem to be heading into a turbulent off-season, and Mourinho can still make matters worse in the two league matches remaining.
When Ronaldo will do his CNN interview in a couple of months, we’ll find out more about how he sees this whole strange campaign we’ve just witnessed. But as amazing as Ronaldo is, his ego and frustration gets the best of him. It’s not about Lionel Messi, it’s about himself. Not being on top, not getting what he wants, it comes down to little moments of losing your head, of trying to kick someone in the head, and not getting away with it. It’s about hearing the best seasons of your career have been for nothing; being part of the most expensive failure (relative failure) in European football history. He might be a success, but the team he’s been playing for hasn’t.