Cristiano Ronaldo in spotlight as Real Madrid prepare for Champions League encounter vs Schalke
Madrid, Feb 16 Real Madrid are preparing for their trip to play German side Schalke 04 Wednesday night with several question marks hanging over their squad, especially the form of Cristiano Ronaldo a particular worry.
Ronaldo will travel with Real Madrid on the back of two games (Atletico Madrid and Deportivo la Coruna) where he has been a peripheral figure at best, spending most of his time out on the wing, waiting for the ball to come to him and then doing little when it reached him, reports Xinhua.
He has cut a frustrated figure in those two appearances, just as he did a month ago in Cordoba when he was sent off for kicking out at a rival and subsequently suspended for two games. At the time some tried to see the silver lining in that cloud, arguing it would give him time to recover from what looks like a niggling knee problem which he himself admitted was causing him pain earlier in the year.
It could also have given him time to recover emotionally after the news that his relationship with Russian model Irina Shayk ended after five years.
Unfortunately, he has not shown any sign of lifting his game since the suspension. Indeed just the opposite has happened and during that time he also incurred the wrath of the Real Madrid fans after photos of his 30th birthday party were filtered just hours after Real Madrid were humiliated 0-4 away to Atletico, a game in which he produced one of his worst ever displays.
The fans who celebrated his triumph over Lionel Messi in the Balon D'Or awards in January, booed when his name was announced in the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday and they booed again when he sent a free-kick ballooning into the stands.
Meanwhile over in Barcelona, the fans in Camp Nou took time out from enjoying their side's 5-0 thrashing of Levante to dedicate Ronaldo their own song in memory of his party. "Ronaldo's a drunk", they chorused in the midst of Messi's hat-trick.
Messi's impressive form of 2015 is a mirror which must hurt Ronaldo. While the Portuguese striker has netted just four goals in 2015, Messi has gone into overdrive, scoring 13 and moving to within just two goals of Ronaldo in the race to be top scorer this season as well as providing several assists.
Now Champions League returns. Although Madrid will be confident of defeating a side they beat 9-2 on aggregate last year, there is no room for error and if Ronaldo doesn't return to form, the new contract signed by clubs in the Premier League will see rumours of a move back to Manchester United.