Why always Ronaldo?
‘Why Always Me?’ – words made famous in the English Premier League by Manchester City’s mad-cap Italian Mario Balotelli. If one player in La Liga could unveil Balotelli’s famous t-shirt this weekend, it may well be Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The £80m man is Madrid’s golden boy. A name known around the world. A player officially ranked as the second best in the world according to Fifa, confirmed at its Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich last week. A player who would be first in many other generations, with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi blasting everyone aside year after year. A player who, despite being pipped by Messi for world football’s top player honour, is the leading scorer in La Liga so far this season (with four more goals than Messi), with the most shots on goal (111) and in the top-five of goal providers in Spain. His undoubted qualities as a footballer have helped Los Blancos top the league table midway through the season with a five-point lead over the Catalans. He’s also helped Madrid to the knock-out stages of the Champions League and last eight of the Copa del Rey.
So why a hint of frustration from Madrid’s star man with everything looking rosy?
Last week’s game between Madrid and Granada at the Bernabeu saw Madridistas jeer the world’s most expensive player, according to reports. This with Madrid winning 5-1, stretching their lead at the top of the table and Ronaldo grabbing the final goal. It was his reaction to netting that goal, his 21st league goal of the campaign, that caused a stir and grabbed the headlines in the Spanish papers the following day. A seemingly ‘angry’ reaction towards the supporters, in response to the jeering, and a lack of any joy at scoring a goal called into question Ronaldo’s mentality and just how happy he is in the Spanish capital. Head down, he trudged back to the halfway line without a hint of happiness. Mario’s ‘Why Always Me?’ t-shirt would have seemingly been very apt for the Portuguese at that moment.
Ultimately, this reaction from the Madrid fans and press boils way back to Barcelona’s 3-1 victory at the Bernabeu in December, a match where Ronaldo was deemed a ‘no show’ as Messi again took the headlines. Even the pro-Madrid press, who usually sugarcoat everything to do with the former Manchester United man, turned against him slightly and asked the question of whether Ronaldo can cut it in the big games. That loss, with Madrid actually being favourites before the game thanks to their great start to the season, seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as Ronaldo’s Clasico performances were concerned.
The winning goal in last season’s Copa del Rey final aside, Ronaldo has been poor against Barcelona and the stats back it up. Bare in mind his superb goal ratio of almost a goal per game, he’s scored just three times in ten clashes with Barca, including one penalty. What we should also bear in mind, however, is that Madrid have been second best to their Catalan rivals in the majority of those games – Madrid have won just once in ten games since Ronaldo’s arrival, losing six and drawing three. It’s not just Ronaldo who’s been below-par in Clasico contests.
Both Jose Mourinho, Madrid’s manager, and Iker Casillas have come out to defend Ronaldo this week. Mourinho told the gathered press post-match: “I think it is more relevant that he celebrates the goals that win games and not the fifth goal in the 90th minute. I saw him celebrate the other four that were the important ones.” Casillas said: “There is no debate about his quality. He has always had the support of the fans.”
While the actual relationship between Ronaldo and the Madrid fans is questionable, the real problem is for Ronaldo to win back the support of the media. His character is of a player who needs to be loved to be at his ultimate best – an ultimate best that Madrid needs this season if they’re to end the recent Barcelona dominance in La Liga. Ronaldo may have sported the impression of being fed up against Grenada on Saturday but if you scroll back through his goals in a Madrid shirt you’ll see that’s just the way he is. It doesn’t help, however, when he under-performs in the biggest domestic match of Spain’s season and carries that with him for the following weeks.
He scores for fun against the rest of La Liga – Mallorca be on your guard this weekend. Now he just needs to show that he can cut it against Barca. The footballing Gods have given him the chance to do just that over the next few weeks with Madrid and Barcelona being drawn against each other in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. The two-legged affair may be important for both teams, not just for bragging rights but for Madrid to finally show they can beat Pep’s boys and for Barca to try and upset Madrid’s forward momentum. It’s also important for Ronaldo to finally arrive at the Clasico party.Tagged in: Barcelona, cristiano ronaldo, José Mourinho, la liga, Lionel Messi, Mario Balotelli, real madrid
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