Cristiano Ronaldo, often called CR7, is revered as the best player in the world and in history by many. He’s as hard in mental resolve and impermeable in desire as Cr, the periodic table element. We’ve been treated to years upon years of excellence from the self and media imposed rival to Lionel Messi. This season, however, has so far broken the trend and many are now asking if that excellence will ever return.
Anyone who watches football with an eye for analysis that reaches beyond goals and assists will have realised that there was a distinct possibility that Ronaldo would have a lull in form, whether temporary or permanent. The massive issue with this reality is that, as Ronaldo goes, Real Madrid goes.
It’s not only for the massive weight of goals he brings to the equation. It’s because, as great as he is, he’s a liability when not scoring and even more so when his goal-scoring form is as rotten as it is now. We’re talking insipid and just not pleasing to the eye. Even his detractors must be feeling some sort of empathy as much as they would be having an ‘I told you so’ season.
What’s good about statistics is that they tell so much when we know what to look for. Such analysis requires skill and thus it’s an art that keeps evolving over time to even more accurately tell the story.
What do the statistics that matter say about Ronaldo and were the warning signs there? A quick analysis of his goal contributions actually shows steady decline before this precipitous fall. Since the 2014/15 season, his goals plus assists per 90 mins have been 1.87, 1.3, 1.1 and now, 0.43. That’s compared to Lionel Messi who, despite being really, really good in other areas, still managed 1.67, 1.39, 1.47 and 1.31 goal contributions in those same four seasons. This is also in decline as his role has had him situated deeper and deeper to prop up a weakening Barcelona midfield. The difference is that every other statistic points to him probably getting even better. Messi is fine wine (Hello, Pirlo).