At this stage of his career, it doesn’t really matter if the thing that truly motivates Cristiano Ronaldo is titles or individual success. He’s not going to win mister popular as long as the other greatest player in the world is around, but he can play at the same level, almost all of the time, and especially when Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria look like themselves.
The success of Real Madrid isn’t just about Cristiano Ronaldo putting on superhuman efforts: hattricks, 10 goals in 6 matches since 2013 began and the regular stuff. Yes, he’s the kind of player you can throw into a relegation-battler and turn into a team fighting for a top 4 place. He’s that good. But the best of Real Madrid comes when not everything goes through him. When he gets his touches and shots not by forcing himself upon the game, but by being just another part of an efficient machine, just like what’s his name from that club leading the La Liga.
Consistency is probably the first word that comes to mind when you think about this season’s Real Madrid and the one from last season, that one the La Liga title for the first time after three consecutive Barcelona wins. Not brilliant football; good, but something that kept on coming week and in week out. Hardly any matches of Jose Mourinho’s players looking lost on an away field, unable to create any sort of rhythm and fluidity in their matches. Ronaldo isn’t responsible, he isn’t the one that’s in-charge of the passing game and pushing the team forward. He finishes, he creates, but only after someone(s) have done their build up job.
Mesut Ozil has been having an up and down season. He wasn’t too happy about the arrival of Luka Modric. No one is going to move Xabi Alonso from his spot, and Modric pretty quickly showed that physically he isn’t Sami Khedira. Ozil lost his place in the lineup a couple of times, and from then on, having a great game from his or even a good one wasn’t money in the bank.
Angel Di Maria’s ability on the wings; his passing, crossing and cuts into the middle were one of Real’s best weapons last season. This year? Injuries and a falling out with Mourinho, something to do with the amount of money Di Maria makes (hungry players play better?) hurt his stature within the club and his ability on the pitch.
In this season, two consecutive wins with at least 4 goals without conceding a single one isn’t something to be taken lightly. The league title is lost, unless something out-of-this-world happens, like aliens abducting Messi, Xavi and Iniesta on some Sunday afternoon. But Cristiano Ronaldo is looking ahead, to a great 2013, whatever that means, with some great football to kick it off. With the creative players behind him, Angel di Maria and Mesut Ozil playing the kind of football they’re showing again, Real Madrid are as good as anyone else in Europe.