StoryRonaldo Cannot Carry Real Madrid Alone

Cristiano Ronaldo is on pace for the worst La Liga season of his career with Real Madrid. The Portuguese star has scored only four goals in his opening 12 matches of the campaign, which has corresponded with Los Blancos’ underwhelming position at the half-way stage. Ronaldo has been on song in the Champions League, maintaining his impressive form on the continent, although four of his nine strikes came against the lowly APOEL Nicosia.

Ronaldo will be 33 in February and it appears as though his incredible level of form is starting to decline. The Portuguese reached heights only matched by Lionel Messi as the duo dominated La Liga, with Ronaldo’s personal pinnacle coming in the 2014/15 campaign when he scored 48 goals in just 35 matches. Despite his extraordinary effort, Real were beaten to the title by Barcelona, culminating in the departure of Carlo Ancelotti.

Zinedine Zidane has brought two Champions League crowns in three seasons along with the La Liga title last term as Los Blancos completed a famous double. Ronaldo was the driving force behind both successes, but as he has struggled this term so have his team. Real are 14 points off the pace of Barcelona at the top of the table following their 3-0 defeat in El Clasico before the winter break. They do have a game in hand on their rivals, but the latest football betting odds of 14/1 highlight the challenge ahead of them to win the title.

Even though he has endured the slowest start in his Real career, Ronaldo has the ability to get his side back on form. His first-half brace in Los Blancos’ 5-0 hammering of Sevilla proved that the team of the last campaign is still alive in Zidane’s squad. Perhaps the biggest aspect of their struggles has been the lack of support around the Portuguese. Gareth Bale has had troubles with injury throughout the term, while Karim Benzema’s form in front of goal has been atrocious, netting two goals in 12 matches.

Isco looked to be the man to carry the mantle for the club going forward following his breakout campaign. However, the 25-year-old has taken a step back and was left out of the team for El Clasico, which drew the ire of the Spaniard. Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez have a great deal of promise and will be the building blocks of the future, but cannot carry the fortunes of the team this early into their careers.

As a result, the pressure is on Ronaldo to bear the burden once again. As he approaches his mid-30s, Ronaldo needs the strain lifted from his shoulders. Against Barcelona, he had his moments and was unlucky not to find the net. Whereas Messi had the support of a team effort, despite the departure of Neymar, Ronaldo has not been so fortunate.

The Portuguese’s form has not been good enough by his high standards in the league. At this point of his career, it could simply be the case of father time catching up with him due to the number of games he has played, beginning at an early age in Sporting Lisbon. Ronaldo remains one of the world’s finest players, but carrying Madrid to success in the second half of the term may be a step too far even for a competitor of his calibre.