It doesn’t take a footballing expert to understand that Cristiano Ronaldo is on the decline. The four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest football players of this generation.
He has scored 616 goals for club and country with 4 UEFA Champions League winners medal. He has won every possible honour in club football and led Portugal to the UEFA Euro title in 2016.
After 15 full seasons with Sporting CP, Manchester United and Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be slowing down a bit. For the first time in more than 10 years, he is going through a goal drought and his struggles are clearly visible. It is quite natural for any player who played 15 successful seasons at the top-flight to slow down.
Let’s see the 5 reasons why Cristiano Ronaldo is past his prime:
#5 His runs are slowing down and is no more a threat from outside the box
Nowadays, we rarely see the Cristiano Ronaldo of old who gets the ball anywhere on the field and just starts racing & dribbling his way past opponents towards goal. With age and injuries catching up with him, he is more selective about his runs. He is still one of the fastest in the world but a tad slower than he was a couple of years ago.
He plays more centrally these days or as a false 9. He is more of a striker than a left winger. He plays closer to the goal than he was before and let his midfielders do the job of moving the ball. He does not offer much outside the box and runs less.
His goals from outside the box reduced drastically over the last couple of seasons and he is not the threat he once used to be. He does not contribute a lot to the build-up play and the stats below clearly shows where he was once and where he is now.
Shots from outside the penalty area (La Liga & UCL)
2014/15 (Total, per game)- 126, 2.9
2015/16 (Total, per game)- 114, 2.7
2016/17 (Total, per game)- 74, 1.8
2017/18 (Total, per game)- 12, 1.2
#4 Decline as a set-piece specialist
For a man who scored more than 50 free kick goals (for both club and country) in his illustrious career, his return has been poor in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 La Liga seasons where he just scored only once in each season.
Gone are the days when opposition teams don’t want to foul a player anywhere near the goal when Cristiano Ronaldo is on the pitch. His set-piece expertise is part of what made him a great player at Manchester United and that’s what prompted Real Madrid to pay a world record fee for him.
His knee injury (tendinitis) late in the 2013/14 season had a major impact on his free-kick technique. He modified it a bit to put less pressure on his knee which affected his ability to shoot from distance. Just to relieve him of the pressure, Garth Bale and Isco are beginning to see more of the set-piece duty these days. Watching out for your health is extremely important obviously. Personally I use natural medicine whenever I get sick. Not many people do this but it is actually a great alternative that can be safer and more effective for many common ailments. If you would like more information you can visit here for herbs.
Set-piece Goals (La Liga & UCL):
2015/16 – 9
2016/17 – 4
2017/18 – 0
# 3 Goal conversion ratio reduced drastically
Those days when Cristiano Ronaldo single-handedly rescued Manchester United and Real Madrid are over. With just one goal from 40 efforts on goal, Cristiano Ronaldo has the worst conversion rate (2.5 percent) of all goalscorers in Europe’s top five leagues.
Cristiano Ronaldo is going through a goal drought and Real Madrid is struggling domestically and in Europe. Real Madrid created 151 goalscoring chances in total in La Liga this season and have taken only 8% of them. They have a shot accuracy of 48% and are wasteful in-front of the goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored only once in 540 minutes from six La Liga this season. He has missed some easiest of chances in La Liga this term and has a shot accuracy of 39%. Last week against Girona, Ronaldo attempted 7 shots on goal without success, misplaced 6 passes and was dispossessed once which was uncharacteristic of him.
Goal Conversion Stats(La Liga):
2014/15 – 21.33 %
2015/16 – 15.42 %
2016/17 – 10 %
2017/18 – 2.5
#2 We don’t get to see his Dribbles/Take-ons a lot these days
Cristiano Rolando took the Premier League by storm after he made his Manchester United debut in 2003/04 season. Primarily a left winger, Ronaldo became noted for his dribbling and flair, often displaying an array of tricks and feints such as the stepovers that became his trademark during his days in England.
But recent stats reveal that Cristiano Ronaldo has lost his dribbling ability. It is being a little harsh on the player who plays more centrally these days and not as a winger. But his ability to take on the players has diminished over the last 2 to 3 seasons. He averaged over 100 dribbles a season in his first few years at Madrid but over the last few years, it had gone down to 50.
He is no more the deadly Cristiano Ronaldo, who was direct and dashed past opponents as if there weren’t there. 5 years back, it will be hard to name a player who can mark Ronaldo out of the game but against Girona last week, 20-year-old Pablo Maffeo did the job to perfection which goes on to say Ronaldo has lost his invincibility.
Ronaldo and Messi successful dribbles (La Liga & UCL)
2014/15: Ronaldo 79 – 166 Messi
2015/16 – Ronaldo 58 – 151 Messi
2016/17 – Ronaldo 40 – 154 Messi
2017/18 – Ronaldo 12 – 77 Messi
#1 He does not create or score goals often as he used to
Ronaldo started his Manchester United career on the left wing and whenever he touches the ball, one can expect him to blast forward, weaving past the opponents with pace and trickery. He influenced the game from midfield, breaking down attacks and creating goals. After his move to Real Madrid, Manuel Pellegrini preferred to play him in a more central role. He became more of a goal scoring threat but often comes deep to influence the game.
When you see the above stats, chances created per 90 mins and goals per 90 mins are on the decline during 2015/16 and 2016/17. The goal scoring threat of Ronaldo has diminished over the last 2 seasons.
Apart from few moments of brilliance, he plays more of a waiting role in the box, expecting his midfielders to create opportunities. As shown below, his numbers on the assists and key passes are clearly on the decline, proving that he is no more the driving force he once was.
Total Assists, Key passes per game (La Liga & UCL)
2014/15 – 19, 2
2015/16 – 15, 1.5
2016/17 – 11, 1.3
2017/18 – 1, 1.3