A brace by Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to a 4-1 victory against Valencia over the weekend. Is this a prelude for better things to come?
Frankly, it may be too early to call but it will be equally unwise to rule out the possibility of an insurgency by La Liga’s defending champions. The 2017/2018 season has basically been one to forget for Los Blancos.
On top of trailing Barcelona by 19 points in the league, crashing out of the Copa Del Rey via a surprise defeat to Leganes has been a bitter pill to swallow for a team of Real Madrid’s caliber.
The win at the Mestalla was a must and, thankfully, it was executed by the team to near perfection. The 4-1 victory has certainly awakened the ‘Oliver Twist’ in Madridistas, but can Cristiano Ronaldo and his entourage give them more per popular demand?
Timeless Cristiano Ronaldo
In much candor, the current Ballon d’Or holder has been far from his best in the Spanish league this season. It is not for the lack of trying as he has averaged 5.2 shots in 16 games, with only eight finding the back of the net.
It is also no secret that the low confidence in the Real Madrid camp, which is as a result of the team not getting results, has also taken a slight toll on the devastating forward. On his day, his prowesses are unmatched.
A Leader on & off the pitch. El Comandante.pic.twitter.com/SZCvgB7Nke
— Hamza (@Ronaldoverses) January 27, 2018
However, with players like Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema momentarily misfiring, much can’t really come from the skillful speedster who has comfortably morphed into a lethal goal poacher in recent years.
Despite his meager tally in La Liga, it isn’t all dreary for the 32-year-old as far as the UEFA Champions League is concerned. With nine goals in six games, the Portuguese superstar is far from the “finished player” many have consistently tagged him to be.
All-time favourite Real Madrid forward? pic.twitter.com/QXoBG9Kw0m
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 12, 2017
He needed a confidence booster and his brace of goals against Valencia on Saturday could really be a step in the right direction. The much-dreaded game against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League which can arguably make or break his side’s season is just around the corner.
Nevertheless, reminiscing Ronaldo’s incredible exploits in the knockout stage of last season’s campaign, it will be suicidal to write him off just yet.
The remerged BBC and their foreseeable future
The match against Valencia saw Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo fielded in a game together for the first time in 280 days. With the trio being Zidane’s first choice attacking option, seeing them together comes as a huge sigh of relief for the under-fire manager.
The trident has scored a staggering 400 goals between them with Cristiano topping the list with 225 goals, while Benzema and Bale follow with 99 and 76 respectively. However, many Madridistas believe the band has outlived its stay and are already calling for their eviction, starting with Karim Benzema.
BBC in Real Madrid = 400⚽️/ 12?
BBC Season 13/14 = 097⚽️ ??
BBC Season 14/15 = 100⚽️ ??
BBC Season 15/16 = 098⚽️ ?
BBC Season 16/17 = 070⚽️ ????
BBC Season 17/18 = 035⚽️ ??? pic.twitter.com/jS14tVeG65
— Twitugal? (@Twitugal) January 27, 2018
His apparent inconsistent performances have made him very unpopular in the capital club’s fan base. Their argument is perhaps justified if his general contribution as a striker is perused, having registered just six goals in 23 appearances across all competitions this season.
Zealots claim the 30-year-old Frenchman is tactically intelligent, and that he helps Ronaldo find spaces to score the goals with his movements. But as a long-standing striker of the side, that is nowhere near enough: especially following the departure of fans favorite Alvaro Morata to Chelsea.
Gareth Bale, on the other hand, is slowly winning over the Bernabeu faithful with a string of impressive performances. A few months ago, his name was on the list of players deemed unfit to wear the all-White outfit.
In 10 less games and 900 less minutes, Gareth Bale has already equaled his statistics of 2016/17 ?
27 games – 1,937 minutes ?
9 goals ⚽️
5 Assists ?
17 games – 1,081 minutes ?
9 goals ⚽️
5 assists ?
Back to his best ? pic.twitter.com/cHDz3PSDmi
— bhavin (@BhavinRMCF) January 23, 2018
However, the narrative has changed since returning from injury as his goal tally for the season now stands at nine in 19 matches. Based on his current form, he undoubtedly has a role to play for the Merengues as they turn their focus to clinching the UEFA Champions League for an unprecedented third time in succession.
Will he be there next season? Let’s allow time to be the judge.
Zidane’s mistakes and the looming dismissal
Six months ago, it would have been classified as a bad joke had anyone predicted the crisis that has befallen the Frenchman and his side. Now, after seeing his team drop points in an atypical fashion across all competitions, Zidane is faced with the backlash of fans.
Their discontentment is as a result of him allowing the sales of Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez without able replacements coming in, making the faltering Karim Benzema a regular starter and denying Asensio and Isco playing time, among others.
Furious debate the other day on Zidane getting a new deal at RM because of poor form. Should he be sacked?
— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) January 27, 2018
In Zidane’s defense, it was very hard to anticipate all the current mishaps considering how strong Real Madrid ended last season and started this season’s campaign. But that is no excuse. Actions come with consequences and, as a result, fans expected the former Galactico together with the club’s board to put down contingency measures.
Now, aside the ultimatum of clinching the UEFA Champions League for a historic third time in a row, the chances of Zidane retaining his job next season without a silverware are almost nonexistent. The win at Valencia may add nothing more than helping secure an automatic qualification to next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Look at Ronaldo, who hardly celebrates goals when we are 4-1 up, celebrating. All others too actually, have the feeling this was Zidane’s last chance and the players didn’t want him out. The confidence boost we needed?
— Robin (@Dybalance) January 27, 2018
However, it could as well be the turning point in what has so far been an embarrassing experience for the Frenchman. Game on? We shall see…