Ronaldo’s Toughest Season Could Still End on High Note
Things clearly haven’t been going the way that Cristiano Ronaldo would have hoped this season. Real Madrid are in an embarrassing (by their standards) position in La Liga, with the champions 14 points behind Barcelona and 10 points behind cross-city rivals Atlético.
The hunt for the title has finished and they crashed out in ignominious fashion to Leganes in the Copa Del Rey. Domestically, their best hope is to maintain their position in third, although even that is not certain given Valencia’s very good form.
Away from La Liga, things are looking a bit better. This is being written just a few days before Real take on PSG in the second leg of the Champions League Last 16. Madrid’s 3-1 victory, with two goals from Ronaldo, demonstrated that they are still the team to beat in Europe’s premier competition. While they are in no way certain to qualify, Madrid have nonetheless put themselves in a good position.
Madrid and Ronaldo both failing to fire at times
For Ronaldo on an individual level, things have more or less mirrored Madrid’s season. Just when you think he is about to ‘lift-off’, things seem to be reset all over again. He has not been awful in the league: 14 goals put him just one behind Antoine Griezmann. However, it his by his own incredibly high standards (and Lionel Messi’s) that he is judged.
The Champions League is a different matter though, he has bagged 11 goals so far and is priced at odds of 4/9 to once again be crowned the competition’s top scorer. Harry Kane and Roberto Firmino are next on the charts with seven goals each, priced at odds of 9/1 and 33/1 respectively. However, most would fancy the Portuguese to hold them off. Indeed, Ronaldo is just six short of equalling the all-time record of 17 goals he set in 2013/14 season.
World Cup will be firmly in Ronaldo’s mind
It’s also easy to forget that this is a World Cup year. Despite being European champions and currently sitting third in the latest FIFA rankings, Portugal can still be backed at 25/1 for the tournament when you bet with the top UK bookmakers. That’s pretty tempting given the record of Fernando Santos’ side. Ronaldo is priced at 14/1 to win the Golden Boot in Russia, another decent pick given Portugal’s have two of the tournament’s weaker teams in their group – Iran and Morocco.
From a perspective away from the Madrid bubble, it seems ludicrous that Ronaldo is once again being doubted by fans. His future will always be speculated about, but his current standards only look short by comparison with his past. While Messi leads the way in La Liga’s goal-scoring charts, Ronaldo has nearly three times the goals of the Argentine in the Champions League (11 v 4). What’s all the fuss about?
Seventh Champions League top scorer award is within Ronaldo’s grasp
Less than a year ago Ronaldo was being booed by Madrid fans, yet he was still able to lead them to a La Liga and Champions League double. By the time the end of the domestic season comes around, he could be looking at another top scorer award in the Champions League and ready to captain an underrated Portugal side in his fourth and, probably, final World Cup. The season could end on a high note, with Ronaldo’s detractors once again looking very foolish.
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