A theory that’s been thrown around here and elsewhere in the past is that once you have Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad, and obviously in the lineup, it forces you to play a certain way. Real Madrid, since Ronaldo has arrived, haven’t been able to reclaim their Champions League dominance, and are on their way of losing yet another La Liga title to Barcelona, already 11 points behind their arch rivals.
According to Jonathan Wilson from the Guardian, Ronaldo is Real Madrid’s greatest asset but also a big problem when it comes to predictability. Even worse, he compares Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho to great European clubs in the past, including the most recent Barcelona success, a team many people are willing to stake are the best in the history of the competition.
All those teams had stars, but none of them were bigger than the club. Ronaldo, just for being who he is, draws all the attention and focus upon himself. He also demands to see the ball almost every time there’s a chance for something to happen. When it comes down to the knockout stages against quality teams, that seems to be working against Real Madrid.
Last year it was noted that Ronaldo was making an effort to change his ways. When you’re playing with Angel di Maria, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Ozil, Kaka and Xabi Alonso, you can’t allow yourself to block everyone out and still expect to be the sole finisher of every attack. Ronaldo takes a ridiculous amount of shots at goal each match. He’s that good; he can create for himself and forget about the rest.
But a big part of Real’s success last season, record breaking in the La Liga in terms of points and goals, was Ronaldo making the adjustment. Understanding that thinking of others and not just his own success and glory will be the better route. Not that Ronaldo doesnt’ want to win; he just wants to win because of him. A little bit like the case of Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. Winning is in his blood and all he can think about, but it’s hard for him not to try and steal the show.
This season? Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in 20 matches. He’s averaging a goal per match throughout his Real Madrid career, and it might be true that his arrival to the La Liga has pushed Lionel Messi to the heights he’s reached. He doesn’t show it like Ronaldo does, Messi is after winning, less so glory, just like Cristiano Ronaldo is.
But Cristiano Ronaldo has gone back to his ways, especially in Real’s bad matches. His field vision is gone, and all he sees is the goal. Against most opponents it’s enough to win; but against the better clubs it doesn’t always pan out. Just look at Real Madrid in the Champions League this year, except for the Ajax match. They haven’t played well or extremely well in a single contest, and make it out to the knockout stage because of a late Ronaldo goal vs Manchester City in the opening match. They were outplayed and easily closed down way too often.
Ronaldo thinks that he isn’t appreciated like he should be because of his personality on the pitch. Wrong. There are enough people who recognize his great talents, but they also know that too often, especially in Clasico matches and against Europe’s best, his need to take over a match makes Real Madrid more predictable, easier to stop. It shouldn’t be that way. Not Jose Mourinho, not Cristiano Ronaldo, no one is bigger than a team, especially a giant like Real Madrid.