3 milestones that could forever elude Cristiano Ronaldo
- 3 milestones that could elude Cristiano Ronaldo forever
Cristiano Ronaldo has been one of the standout performers for club and country in the decade that was 2010-2019. The Portugal captain led his nation to European Championship success in France 2016 where he became the first player to score in 4 different editions of the competition to join competition top-scorer Michel Platini on 9 goals apiece. Ronaldo moved to the brink of 100 international goals by scoring in 6 consecutive qualifying games to lead the defending Euro champions to Euro 2020.
During a fruitful 9-year stay at Real Madrid, he became the all-time top-scorer for the historic Spanish club, the first player in the Champions League (CL) era to score 100 goals in the competition, 100 goals for a single club in the competition, and won 4 CL titles. In the league, he emulated Lionel Messi to be the second player to enter the 300 La Liga goals club.
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Ronaldo continued to break new ground since joining Italian giants Juventus in the summer of 2018. Although a first Serie A hat-trick has proved elusive in one and a half seasons for the club, Ronaldo scored a record-equalling 8th hat-trick in the Champions League as Juventus overturned a two-goal first leg Round of 16 deficit to eliminate Atletico Madrid last season. The Juventus striker's scoring rate took a slight dip since arriving in Italy but he still ended 2019 as one of the top-5 scorers for club and country.
Despite being a consistent standout performer during his career, the following milestones may prove elusive for one of the finest players in the game in modern times:
#1 Record for most goals in a Serie A season
Ronaldo took 4 games to open his Serie A account in 2018-19 but scored 8 in his next 10 top-flight games to become the first Juventus player since Welshman John Charles to score 10 goals in his first 14 Serie A games. The Portugal captain ended his debut season in Italy with a haul of 21 top-flight goals.
Although Ronaldo scored 20 or more league goals in a season for the 10th consecutive season, the all-time Champions League top-scorer fell 5 goals short of Capocannoniere winner Fabio Quagliarella (26).
This season, Ronaldo endured a slow start before picking up pace to reach 10 goals in 14 Serie A games for the season. During one and a half seasons in Italy, Ronaldo (31 goals in 45 top-flight games) has never scored at a rate of a goal per game which he needs to do so if he has designs on nabbing the most Serie A goals (35) in a season record currently possessed by his club mate Gonzalo Higuain.
Historically, Serie A has been a difficult league to score goals in. Next season Ronaldo would be 35 and the Portuguese striker would be coming off a short off-season depending on how Portugal fares at Euro 2020. Thus, it is fairly plausible that the most goals in a Serie A season may elude Ronaldo's grasp.
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# 2 Most goals in European League Football
With 429 goals in European league football (3 for Sporting Lisbon, 84 for Manchester United, 311 for Real Madrid, and 31 for Juventus), Ronaldo only trails Lionel Messi (432), Ferenc Puscas (517), and Josef Bican (518) in the all-time list.
Considering his league performances in the last 3 seasons, Ronaldo has averaged 24 goals per season. If he continues to score league goals at this rate, the Portugal captain would reach 443 goals by the end of the season and would breach the 500-goal mark sometime during the 2022-23 season by which time he will be 37. Factoring in diminishing returns due to advancing age and slowing reflexes, Bican's mark may be considered just beyond reach.
#1 Win the World Cup for Portugal
At the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar due to be held in the winter, Ronaldo would be two months shy of his 38th birthday. Considering his supreme fitness and athleticism, it is plausible that the Portuguese maestro might still be playing competitive football at an age many outfield players are a few years into their retirements. In seven appearances at the World Cup, Portugal have been thwarted at the last-4 stage on two occasions (1966 and 2006). Ronaldo has been scoring the bulk of the goals for his national team, in the absence of another consistent goal-scorer.
If not Euro 2020, the 2022 World Cup could surely be Ronaldo's final major international tournament. To expect a soon-to-be 38-year-old Ronaldo to lead his team to World Cup glory at Qatar 2022 may be an idea stretched too far. The Portuguese maestro might hang up his boots without ever winning the World Cup.
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