Some players, without too many opportunities to win titles through their careers, cherish their opportunities when a national cup competition is the one to bring them glory. For clubs like Real Madrid, and superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, falling back on those kind of trophies after missing out yet again on the league championship and the Champions League isn’t something that gives him too much joy.
Because when you’re one of the two most talented players in a certain era, and Ronaldo has been on top, or close to the top, of European football for the past six seasons in his individual ability, you expect it to translate into titles. After winning three consecutive league titles with Manchester United and one Champions League trophy, his time at Real Madrid hasn’t been far less successful, even though his scoring and personal performances, most of the time, have been of the highest caliber.
Even individual awards can’t be won because of one, Lionel Messi. Ronaldo has one Pichichi, but unless he goes on a scoring rampage in the final few matches of the season (currently with 31 from 31), he’ll have to watch Lionel Messi grab it for a second consecutive season (44 goals in 30 so far) while Barcelona pick up their fourth league title in five seasons, third since Ronaldo signed with Real Madrid: Five matches left to go, Barcelona have an 11 point lead.
Ronaldo was 24 when he began his Real Madrid career. He’ll be turning 29 in the middle of next season, probably with Real Madrid as well unless someone is willing to offer €80 million, which is unlikely despite the relative availability of Ronaldo. For his time with Real, he has one league title, one (potentially two) Copa Del Rey trophies and four Champions League disappointments.
So he managed to turn the tide of the losing against Barcelona, not to mention score against them almost in every match. That’s not what great players step on the pitch for. Ronaldo is about winning titles, for himself and for the clubs he plays for, and it really doesn’t matter at what order. The bottom line is that he’s falling short of reaching his goal of loading up on championships, local and continental, during the best years of his career. It doesn’t always have to do with him, but the road to the end result makes no difference – Ronaldo is underachieving along with the proud club he’s playing for.
It’s hard to call him a disappointment or a failure because of what he’s been doing on the pitch for the past five seasons – good enough to crown him as one of the greatest of all time if it wasn’t for Messi, but there’s no doubt that his time with Real Madrid, unless a sudden change in the dominance in Spain occurs, will be remembered as such because he was almost always destined to settle for second best – against Barcelona or against any other team Real Madrid happened to come across in the Champions League over the last three years.