Although it is clear that Cristiano Ronaldo will win the Balon D’Or this year, many people believe that Lionel Messi has had a better season individually. We are not going to get into that debate now but it is clear that Ronaldo’s role at Real Madrid has been evolving and this season more often than not, he has been playing as a pure striker.
It is interesting that Messi has been playing deeper and deeper for Barcelona over the past few years where as Ronaldo has moved in the opposite direction. Barcelona’s midfield is not the same as before and they need Messi’s help in the center of the park but in Real’s case, the trio of Modric-Kroos-Casemiro easily is the best midfield in the world. Valverde must look at how Zidane has managed Ronaldo this season and find a suitable role for Messi next season especially with the World Cup in 2018.
Credit definitely must be given to Zinedine Zidane who brilliantly managed Ronaldo this season ensuring that he is fit and firing during the business end of the season. Still, Ronaldo doesn’t start up top frequently but even when he starts out on the left, more often than not he is in the box finishing moves. The below video perfectly showcases Ronaldo’s movement in the box and why he is so hard to mark.
Combine this deadly movement with lethal finishing and you have the ultimate poacher in football.
“Cristiano seems to be asleep, he does not do anything, and then he comes and he gives you two goals.”
Ronaldo might be doing less on the pitch, might be assisting less and might not help out defensively but his new role is highly effective and dangerous. Real Madrid has a really strong squad and with Ronaldo showing no signs of slowing down, Messi and Barcelona probably have their toughest fight so far in the last twenty years to be Spain’s top dogs.