Cristiano Ronaldo was under intense scrutiny on Monday after he again failed to spark in Real Madrid's surprise 3-2 La Liga defeat at Sevilla that left them trailing leaders Barcelona by three points.
Cristiano Ronaldo was under intense scrutiny on Monday after he again failed to spark in Real Madrid’s surprise 3-2 La Liga defeat at Sevilla that left them trailing leaders Barcelona by three points.
With the Nov. 21 ‘Clasico’ at home to champions Barca looming, Ronaldo’s goal drought has set alarm bells ringing in the capital, particularly with France striker Karim Benzema sidelined by injury and beset by legal problems.
At Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, Ronaldo was a shadow of the player who has rattled in more than 40 goals in three of his six seasons in Spain, including 48 last term.
It is little wonder that reports have again appeared suggesting the 30-year-old Portugal forward might seek an exit at the end of the season.
At first glance, Ronaldo’s numbers appear eminently respectable, with eight goals in 11 La Liga appearances and five in four Champions League outings.
However, he netted five of those La Liga goals in one game, against an abject Espanyol, and discounting those he has made his worst start to a La Liga campaign since his debut season in 2009-10.
On Sunday, Ronaldo struggled to connect with team mates, appeared to lash out at one point at an opponent and in one attack selfishly tried to score himself when Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and James Rodriguez were all better placed.
As he trudged off the pitch, he appeared to be complaining bitterly to Sergio Ramos and his overall performance suggested something is very wrong with the three-times FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.
Jorge Valdano, a former Real player and coach, said Ronaldo was suffering because of new coach Rafa Benitez’s decision to deploy him in a more central attacking role.
“As far as I understand it, Cristiano would prefer to play coming in off the left wing,” Valdano told Cadena Ser on Monday.
“But he has had to adapt, above all because of the absence of Benzema,” added the former Argentina international.
“With Ronaldo you always have to look at his body language and he is not happy.
“Whether that’s because he is not scoring goals, or he is not playing in his position we don’t know. But what we can see is that he is not enjoying his football.”
Whatever is ailing Ronaldo, Benitez needs him back on top form for Barca’s visit otherwise Real Madrid could find themselves six points adrift of their arch rivals.