Ronaldo's second-half surge
While it hasn’t been heavily talked about in the soccer world, a sleeping giant has been awakened. One which could easily flip the European soccer world on its head. I’m talking about Cristiano Ronaldo.
It wasn’t too long ago where everyone had the same question when looking at Real Madrid and their form: “What’s happened to Cristiano Ronaldo?”.
With Los Blancos sliding in the league early, it was clear something was off with their star players. But the main problem started with Ronaldo. He was still taking the same amount of shots as he would in a normal season, he just wasn’t converting at the same rate. There were a ton of reasons for as to his regression in goal scoring prowess. One of them being Real Madrid’s system or even the poor form of players around him like Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were mentioned. There was even the theory of Ronaldo, at age 33, could be showing signs of slowing down.
Turns out, at least for now, these worries can be put to rest. As of this year, Ronaldo has been back in terms of goal scoring. He’s now up to 22 goals, leading Real Madrid in that statistic and now has moved past Barcelona striker Luis Suarez in the race for second place in La Liga’s top scorer chart. Only Lionel Messi (25 goals) has more in Spain. It’s not just La Liga where he’s scoring, it’s the UCL as well. Against PSG in the return leg in Paris, Ronaldo put the Round of 16 tie to rest with a clinical header. It broke a 0-0 scoreline but also broke Parisian hearts as well. He soared over Thiago Silva and there was nothing PSG could do to prevent Ronaldo from scoring. In fact, none of his opponents have been able to.
Ronaldo has been on a tear as of late. He’s scored in eight straight games for Real Madrid and has bagged goal in 10 of the last eleven. What’s even more scary for future opposition is he’s scored at least a brace in all but two games in his recent stretch, which came in a 5-3 win over Betis and the second leg of the PSG tie. In Real Madrid’s last match against Girona, he recently bagged a super hattrick plus an assist. It was the perfect icing on the cake in terms of his form in March.
So what does this mean for Real Madrid moving forward?
In terms of their La Liga standing, Real Madrid have climbed up to third and are only four points behind second place Atletico. However they are still 19 points behind league leaders Barcelona and at this point it would be of Real’s best interest to focus on the other competition they are in, which is the Champions League.
With Ronaldo hitting full stride, Real Madrid have now affirmed themselves as one of the top teams to repeat in the Champions League. They showed it in the tie against PSG that when those European lights come on, Real Madrid turn into a different monster. Ronaldo has been responsible for a lot of it. He scored three goals and bagged an assist against PSG over the two legs and against a Juventus backline which had problems defending the speed of Tottenham’s wings, this could be a great matchup for Ronaldo. Especially if Allegri continues to go with his patent back 3 and puts out a cornerback like Barzagli out there to cover a certain area of the pitch.
The Champions League is starting to heat up and one of the main stars has awakened from what has seemed like a long slumber. Ronaldo is back to his goal scoring ways and has been putting up crazy numbers along the way. If he continues the form he is, there is no telling who will want to stand in his way from helping Real Madrid to their third straight Champions League trophy.