Cristiano Ronaldo and his continued struggle with free-kicks, has missed the last 51 chances
It is pretty apparent that Cristiano Ronaldo’s game has changed over the years, most particularly since his move to Real Madrid in 2009. The pacey winger from Madeira has turned into a global goalscoring phenomenon who is known more for what he does inside the box as a poacher now instead of his ability to take on other players with quickness and alertness while creating chances for his teammates.
His game might have made him a much more threat in front of the net, however it certainly has taken a toll on his ability to slot the ball into the net from free kicks. The one Ronaldo, who was known for his powerful free kicks, has now missed his last 51 attempts from free kicks over the period of 12 months – 310 days to be precise.
The current Ballon d’Or holder’s incompetence with free kicks was far more noticeable during Real Madrid’s recent 1-1 draw against Villarreal at home when Ronaldo had two opportunities to score from free kicks. But, staying true to his recent form with set pieces, he squandered both of the two chances.
21 (41%) of his free kicks were blocked by the wall while 14 of them were off-target. The rest 16 were either saved by the goalkeeper or woodwork. Clearly something that the highly competitive footballer that we know him as will find disappointing.
His most recent free kick was against Bayern Munich during Real Madrid’s 4-0 win against Bayern Munich in the 2014 Champions League semi-final.
The problem is however not without a solution. Real Madrid are blessed with several players are more than capable of scoring from free kicks with the name of Gareth Bale being the most prominent one. Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, James Rodriguez, Isco and Luka Modric are known to be good set-piece takers themselves.
Bale, since his move to Real Madrid, has scored from 4 free kicks in comparison to Ronaldo’s 5. He usually has dibs on free-kicks which are from the right, while Ronaldo steps up for the ones in the middle and left.
However, the question that remains unanswered is whether manager Carlo Ancelotti will take the bold measure of replacing Ronaldo as Madrid's first free kick taker or will he fold to the ever-growing politics in the locker room that the club is always known for, given the high stature of most of their players.