Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi misfired again for the third matchday this season… but star duo will find their shooting boots.
Once upon a time Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi scoring for Real Madrid and Barcelona was something that could be relied upon to happen every weekend – it was a standard of the Spanish game like Vicente del Bosque’s mustache, Valencia’s two stadiums, and Getafe not having any away supporters. But things have changed this season.
As pointed out by InfoStrada Sports, in three matchdays this campaign both players have failed to score in La Liga – something that had only happened three times in the previous three seasons.
So what’s wrong with the world’s most prolific goalscorers? Ronaldo has scored five this season but they all came in the same match when he destroyed Espanyol’s defence two weeks ago.
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi both failed to score in La Liga on Wednesday
His drop in form is perhaps of symptom of Rafa Benitez taking the focus away from the Portuguese this season. ‘He is our best player but I want him to help the team to win trophies’ Benitez said.
When he plays up-front alongside Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, Ronaldo still leads the dance. He begins on the left and if he runs to the centre then Benzema peels off to the right and Bale moves to the left.
But both Benzema and Bale are being bigged-up by Benitez – the Frenchman because the Real Madrid coach believes he is the man that makes the team tick, and the Welshman because Benitez is under orders to get the best out of the club’s most expensive ever player. Now that the spotlight does not shine exclusively on the needs of one player it perhaps stands to reason that his share of the goals will diminish slightly.
Last season under Carlo Ancelotti, Ronaldo was for the most part spared defensive duties while Benzema, and Bale in particular were given tracking-back responsibilities. That has changed under Benitez.
Ronaldo is also teetering on the brink of breaking what will be his most incredible record – aside from being one goal from his 500th career goal, he is just a hat-trick away from becoming the highest scorer in Real Madrid’s history.
Maybe that thought has begun to creep into his head as he shapes to shoot. In terms of beating Raul’s record of 323 goals in fewer games than the former Real and Spain captain he has margin for error. Raul did it in 741 matches, Ronaldo has played just 306.
Messi’s problems at Barca are not related to records or to anyone else in the team taking centre-stage. Barcelona are struggling as a team to score goals this season – nine in five games by their extremely high standards is a low return. The problem may be nothing more profound than inaccurate finishing.
They have hit the post eight times in those nine games and Messi hit the frame of the goal on Wednesday night just before Celta got their crucial third goal.
‘It’s strange that we are not scoring when you think of the profile of our forward line’ said Luis Enrique after the latest defeat. ‘The truth is we are finding it difficult to get goals,’ he added.
It surely will not last. Not for Messi, and not for Ronaldo. Las Palmas and Malaga respectively will be the unfortunate victims this weekend if they both get on the scoresheet… just like old times.