Former Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti believes that Cristiano Ronaldo keeps defying odds regarding his inevitable decline.
These comments about the five-time Ballon d’Or winner were a reaction to the Portuguese’s hat-trick that allowed Juventus to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League’s round of 16 in midweek. Ancelotti was full of admiration for the Portugal superstar.
“Everyone expects his performance to go down, but it doesn’t,” Ancelotti told Sky Sport, according to Goal.
“It never goes down.”
Having won a Champions League with Real Madrid, Ancelotti has a first-hand experience of watching Ronaldo step up and deliver when it matters the most. The Napoli manager hailed the attacker as great champion who always makes the difference.
“Ronaldo, in these games, just never fails,” the Italian said.
“It is the one thing that makes the biggest difference in a match and is the difference between a great player and a great champion.”
Earlier, we graphed the performance of some of the top forwards from the group stages of the Champions League. Lionel Messi and Neymar led the pack with Kylian Mbappe and Nabil Fekir not far away.
A certain player was not included in the analysis because he was not exactly a “top forward” in the group stages. Cristiano Ronaldo scored just one goal and provided two assists in the four and a half games he featured in – rookie numbers for a player of his quality.
The Portugal icon was purchased by Juventus to helped guide the Italian giants to the coveted Champions League trophy after two heartbreaks in the last four years having been beaten by Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Juventus have never had any problems winning the Serie A and are all set to win their eighth title in a row. Ronaldo has been prolific domestically, netting 19 times. But the Bianconeri have shown that they can cruise to the title without his services. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner must inflate his numbers in the Champions League and do it fast.
We take a look at some of the big talking points regarding Ronaldo’s average show in Europe so far this season.
NO EXCUSES FOR LACK OF SUPPLY
One of the best goalscorers of this era, Ronaldo is no longer the attacker who will take defenders on, dribble past lines and then score a goal – not at the age of 34 anyway. He is, however, the player who latches on to the smallest of chances and changes a game in an instant, showing good conversion with either foot and his head.
But invariably – just like a classic number nine – he depends on his midfielders to create chances he can dispatch. While it would be logical to associate his poor form in the group stages – he scored only once – to under-performing midfielders, the statistics deny this.
The graphic above clearly shows that Ronaldo’s suppliers have performed better in Europe as compared to Italy and it’s evidenced by how they have registered more key-passes in the Champions League. Numbers from Juventus’s 3-0 win over Young Boys at home is removed for the comparison as it did not feature the Portuguese, who missed the game through suspension.
Federico Bernardeschi, Miralem Pjanic, Rodrigo Bentancur, Blaise Matuidi and Juan Cudrado have all stepped up in Champions League and Ronaldo has to step up his quality in the final third to make these chances count.
POOR SHOT QUALITY FROM UNFAVOURABLE SHOT ZONES
Of the 19 goals that Ronaldo has scored in the league, only one has come from out of the box. Five of those have arrived from the penalty spot and this accounts for a massive 26.3 percent of his total goals.
In the Serie A, the former Real Madrid star has a huge chunk of his shots coming from inside the box. At the rate of 4.18 shots per 90 minutes, Ronaldo has shot from inside the box 60 percent of the times. Whereas in Europe, there is a fair split of 2.75 shots every 90 minutes from both inside and outside the box.
The defenders in the Champions League have stopped the 34-year-old from entering favourable positions and hence stunted his numbers from growing.
Consequentially, his shot accuracy has been poor in the Champions League as well. Ronaldo managed to direct 2.68 shots on target every 90 minutes in the league. In Europe, the numbers fall down to 1.5 shots on target for every 90 minutes. Also, at 2.25, the Portuguese has a high amount of inaccurate shots in Europe.
Ronaldo should fix up on these numbers and ensure that he returns to his former clinical self in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
NEVER WRITE HIM OFF
Despite what the eyes and numbers say, Ronaldo is still one of the best players in the world – the one player who’d mock at criticism through his performances.
In the last 16, he will be up against Atletico Madrid, a team which he has tormented in the league and in Europe during his time at Los Blancos.
The hunger to be the best has fueled him for years and he could make up for the lack of goals with a hat-trick in the last 16.
Recent seasons are evidence to the fact that he can under-perform for the first half of the season and then make up for it by delivering when it matters most – the knockout stages of the biggest club competition in Europe.
Will he wake up to steal the show again, or is the inevitable decline fast-approaching?
Portuguese icon Cristiano Ronaldo lifted the ‘Best Player of the Year’ crown for the fifth time at the 10th Globe Soccer Awards as the world of football turned out to honour the sport’s best in Dubai.
The Juventus superstar – winner of the title in 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2017 – edged out French FIFA World Cup-winning pair Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann to lift the prestigious award, presented by HE Mattar Al Tayer, Deputy Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council.
Title-sponsored by Dubai Holding and supported by Audi, du, Meraas and Emirates, the Globe Soccer Awards honoured many of the biggest names in the sport as well as Middle East football celebrities.
French national team coach Didier Deschamps, only the third player to lift the FIFA World Cup as both player and coach, was named ‘Best Coach of the Year’, while Juventus’ Chief Football Officer Fabio Paratici collected the ‘Best Sporting Director Award’.
Other notable winners on the night included Fabio Capello (Coach Career Award, presented by du from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC)), Atletico Madrid (Best Club of the Year) and Jorge Mendes (Agent of the Year).