Is Cristiano Ronaldo On The Decline?

Ronaldo has received a lot of criticism this season, but has he actually been that bad?

Cristiano Ronaldo is pretty good at soccer. Let's not forget that. That being said, Cristiano Ronaldo's form this season has led people to whisper about a "decline" at Real Madrid, which we think is pretty ridiculous. So, we decided to take a closer look. 

So, let's first of all measure his "decline." Ronaldo has scored 21 goals in 24 appearances in La Liga, and 32 goals in 30 games across all competitions. Not bad right? Well, the point that most pundits are making is that his strike ratio is below 50% for the first time in his Real Madrid career. Out of the 21 La Liga games he's played, Ronaldo has scored in just 11 of them. 

We'll concede that Cristiano Ronaldo's form this season has not been as prolific as we're used to. But the Portuguese star admitted earlier this year that personal problems have been affecting his performances on the pitch, and he has also seen a lot of criticism for his frequent trips to Morocco. These personal problems, which Ronaldo refuses to comment on, would explain his dramatic highs and lows this season. He was also quite public with his disagreement regarding the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti. 

Despite public claims to the contrary, Ronaldo and Rafa Benitez just never seemed to fit, and the fact that Ronaldo is not scoring or assisting in every game is not evidence enough of a serious decline in form, but speaks to this bad player-manager relationship. Ronaldo's motivation has at times seemed lacking, which could be the result of a myriad of events behind-the-scenes. We just can't know for sure.

Cristiano Ronaldo's form this season

Ronaldo didn't always seem happy under Rafa. Photo: @DarlitosRivera | Twitte

The other argument that has been made is that Real Madrid would have the exact same points tally without Ronaldo's goals, meaning they are not reliant on his contribution. That is just not true. In the six-nil defeat of Espanyol, Ronaldo scored five and assisted one. Know what that means? Yep. Ronaldo was responsible for every single goal in that match.

Against Real Sociedad, Ronaldo scored two in a three-one win. The math is pretty simple. Without his two goals, Los Blancos grab one point instead of three. The same can be said of Real's four-two victory over Bilbao, in which Ronaldo scored two goals. 

The argument is not only false, it's also pointless. Soccer is a team sport. One of Barcelona's biggest criticisms was their over-reliance on Lionel Messi; a problem which Luis Enrique has since fixed with gusto. When Messi is having a quiet game (admittedly pretty rare), or is injured, then Neymar and Luis Suarez step up. The same can be said for Real Madrid. It's a good thing that they are not dependant on Ronaldo. Other players like Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale can also bang in the goals, which helps the overall balance of the team. 

Does Cristiano Ronaldo's form this season prove he's on the decline? Only if you compare him to his own ridiculously high standards. He's 31 now, which we'll remind you is the same age as Bastian Schweinsteiger, whose age was a constant talking point when he switched to Manchester United. Yet, Ronaldo keeps producing. Is he going to be as prolific as his peak years? Of course not. That's why they're called your f***ing peak years. His age, combined with the relatively negative tactics of Benitez, and off-the-field problems have led Ronaldo to have a rollercoaster of a season. 

Real Madrid's problems during big games go much deeper than Cristiano Ronaldo. The team as a whole has been expensively assembled with not much thought given for balance or depth. Ronaldo is still an important player for Los Blancos and will be for sometime yet. We think the best way to put it is by repeating what we already said earlier: 32 goals in 30 games. And we'll also just drop this video here.