The answer to this question cannot be more clear after Real Madrid drew against Malaga and then drew again against Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo was poor in both the games by his lofty standards as he wasn’t able to convert many chances that any known world class striker would have put away with ease or at least set up another teammate for a rebound shot or an open goal across the keeper.
Yet, the question that keeps on being asked is whether Real Madrid is too dependant on Ronaldo. Real Madrid isn’t dependant on Ronaldo for a lot of reasons and the seven La Liga games this season have given us little to prove otherwise.
Specific people are required to do a specific job in every team that plays at the top level of football
Ronaldo’s job at Real Madrid is to score goals. So the question of Real Madrid relying too much on Real Madrid is just a nonsensical one. Ronaldo was hired by Real Madrid to score goals. If he doesn’t score goals (which thankfully is not the case though it could be better) then Ronaldo is not doing is job and as a result Real Madrid would suffer.
It’s like asking if Real Madrid is too dependant on Keylor Navas, of all people, because whenever he messes up Real Madrid end up conceding a goal. Does that make sense? No. Navas’s job is to stop goals and if he doesn’t do that, then tough luck. He gets to get shipped out come the end of the season and Real Madrid move on.
That is the nature of the game.
Barcelona have scored a total of 12 goals in La Liga so far this season. Messi scored 4, Neymar got 3 for himself and Suarez added three to his tally for Barcelona. What does the math say now?
Of the 12 goals Barcelona scored, 10 goals came from the front three. The rest eight players only managed to score two goals a whole.
So does that now mean that Barcelona is too dependant on Messi, Neymar and Suarez for goals? No, it doesn’t. The fabulous trio’s job is to score goals and they do score goals. That’s that.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, have scored 15 La Liga goals in the current campaign. Now, of those 15 strikes that ended up in the back of the net, six came from the boots of Karim Benzema, five were scored (albeit freakishly from a single match) by Cristiano and two were converted by Gareth Bale who is currently injured.
Of the 15 times Real Madrid managed to get the ball to end up at the back of the net, 12 came through the virtuoso triangle of Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo.
That percentage seems very close to Barcelona’s and yet no one is questioning Barcelona’s reliance on Messi, Neymar and Suarez. Why?
As mentioned before, the question does not make any sense. Strikers are there, on the field, to score goals not to make up the eleven on the team sheet.
So of course Real Madrid and Barcelona (along with every other club in the history of God’s green earth) relies on its strikers to get them goals to win games, more often than not.
Ronaldo is not the same player he was when he came to Real Madrid.
Ronaldo is no more the bazooka wielding speed demon winger he was at Manchester United and for a couple of seasons at Real Madrid. He is just a finisher now.
What that means is that it doesn’t matter as much now as it did before that Ronaldo is on song or not for Real Madrid.
The goals Ronaldo scores these days are relatively easy goals. Javier Saviola (former Real Madrid and Barcelona player. Pretty standard striker though was compared to Maradona when he was coming through the ranks) would score all the goals Ronaldo has scored this term for Real Madrid.
Real Madrid will create chances regardless of whether Ronaldo delivers or not. Infact, an opposite case could be made. That if indeed it is Ronaldo who is holding back Real Madrid by wasting a lot of chances in the attacking third (like against Atletico Madrid and Malaga) and maybe Real Madrid should cash in on Ronaldo and get someone like Sterling or someone from Barcelona to add real strength to the squad.
But I guess, Ronaldo’s name on the teamsheet alone provides Real Madrid with enough financial gain that getting rid of him would be just foolish at the moment.
The point is. Ronaldo is no longer the only star at Real Madrid now. Whether it is because of his injury or his aging that has made him abandon his awesome dribbling skills and shooting range is a question only Ronaldo can answer.
Benzema is the real deal now
After the Atletico Madrid draw, it becomes rather clear that Benzema is man who makes Real Madrid click at the front. His vision and sense of positioning is top notch. Atletico Madrid were able to mute Ronaldo for most of the game but Benzema, at least in the first half, constantly was able to create panic in Atletico’s ranks.
There is a reason why the likes of Benitez and Ancelotti, both, praise Benzema for his efforts and compliment Ronaldo on reaping what Benzema sows at the front.
Benzema is young and has got a lot to prove as a player. He hasn’t won the Ballon D’or in his career and has stated his desire to win one someday.
The only way that would happen is when Benzema starts to finish off moves more often than he currently does.
That might upset Real Madrid attacking balance because Benzema is the one who creates most of the chances that can legitimately be turned into goals, but with Ronaldo not doing what he is supposed to be doing with the chances Benzema and Isco conjure up for him, then perhaps it would be more conducive for Real Madrid to let Benzema take charge from Ronaldo.
Even with his tendency to create opportunities to score goals for his teammates, he still is the highest goal scorer for Real Madrid this term in La Liga.
And unlike Ronaldo, Benzema has scored when it really mattered. That quality which separates the Zidane’s from the Xavi’s of this world is that players like Zidane (and increasingly Benzema too) do extraordinary things when it matters, in adverse conditions.
Gareth Bale Will Take The Mantle From Ronaldo For Real Madrid.
And why shouldn’t he. He has pace, strength and a good shot on him. There is nothing that can stop him apart from his awful injury prone body.
But on a serious note, Benitez is experienced enough to have made that vital decision when he decided to make Bale the central player for Real Madrid rather than Ronaldo and that too from the start of the season.
Perhaps, he saw it coming before everyone else. Ronaldo is fading and that is completely fine. Ronaldo can’t be a world beater for the whole of his career, no one can be. It is quite understandable that Ronaldo is sidelined for Bale to make his way at Real Madrid.
The start of the season was really promising for Gareth Bale when he was involved all over the pitch. He scored some fantastic goals and set up a goal or two as well. Until, his calf muscle gave out on him.
Gareth Bale is expected to return for Real Madrid in the next couple of matches. He even played 20 odd minutes against a tough tackling Atletico Madrid side. Didn’t do well but I don’t think Benitez expected much from Bale in that game except for perhaps, some minutes against an intelligent defensive side.
The fact that Benitez has made Bale his central player, shows that Real Madrid is not too dependant on Ronaldo or Benzema. They all work together to make Real Madrid the attacking force that it is.
It is actually Modric and Kroos that form the engine of this Real Madrid side.
Ronaldo is just the glossy body of a supercar that is this Real Madrid team. It is actually the dynamic duo of Modric and Kroos that make Real Madrid tick.
Time after time we have seen that Real Madrid suffer the most not when there is no Ronaldo, but when there is no Kroos or Modric.
The front three actually have to receive some useful service before they can wave the wand and make a difference. That service is provided by the likes of Modric and Kroos. Kovacic is also coming into the picture slowly but that is to be expected.
Without Modric and Kroos’s:
- defensive work in closing gaps at the back and helping out the back four
- Organization of the team to make it compact without the ball and fluid with the ball
- attacking contribution in terms of accurate long balls to the wingers and skillful distribution of the ball from deep midfield
Real Madrid would not be the team it has been , so far, this season under Benitez.
As explained above, Ronaldo is the one that puts the finishing touches on the work the likes of Benzema, Bale, Kroos and Modric do for the whole of ninety minutes.
This is not to say that Ronaldo is useless. With ten goals already in his goals column, Ronaldo is by far the most efficient player for this Madrid side but he wouldn’t be half as effective if Benzema and Modric didn’t do their part to utmost perfection.
Ronaldo has changed his game a bit too much in the past couple of season, to the point that he is no longer the mainstay behind Real Madrid’s success as a goal scoring machine on the pitch. Any reliable striker would likely give the same returns a 2015-2016 Ronaldo has been giving so far.
Real Madrid is in no way, dependant on Ronaldo for goals or for creating danger on the pitch. But that doesn’t mean that it is time to sell Ronaldo.
Even with his diminished role on the pitch, Ronaldo still is very consistent with what he does on the pitch aside from the fact that his name alone excites people in any given match.
Real Madrid wouldn’t want to relinquish such star power just yet.