Ronaldo’s “Decline” was Just Him Adjusting to Change

Ronaldo might not be the physical specimen who he was just a few years ago but he is still great. One of the greatest of all time

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At the beginning of 2016, it seemed as if Cristiano Ronaldo is not the Alpha Male he used to be when he was younger.

The numbers were pointing to his diminishing importance to Real Madrid. At the time of the winter break, Ronaldo has played 29 matches and has scored in 14 of them. This was a new low for the Portuguese, who has scored in just 48.2% of matches, his worst scoring ratio since joining Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009.

Further examination of his goals showed that none of them were scored when Real Madrid were trailing. In fact, Real Madrid would have had the same number of points without Cristiano’s goals.

However, what was missed is that Ronaldo is transforming. He started focusing on smarter movement on the field, less actions on the ball and less dribbling. Since 2015 about 60% of his goals came from first touch. He gave up on a lot of physical duels to focus more on smarter, more effective, bursts of pace. He is losing only 1.1 balls per game because bad control (that’s down from 1.96 and 2.3 – just a few seasons ago). He is dispossessed just 1.5 times per games – down from 2.2, 2.5 and 2.8 during last few years). He jumps less for headers and has just 0.6 aerial duels per match – down from more than 2  per game during his peak physical performance years.

And most importantly, he scored in semi-finals and finals. He scores during his team’s unbeaten run in the league. He scored in Camp Nou and when his team needs him to score.

Ronaldo, soon 32 years old, has had a great 2016. Ballon d’Or winner, Euro 2016 winner, Champions League winner, FIFA Club World Cup winner,  great scorer of goals and scorer of great goals. He might not be the physical specimen who he was just a few years ago but he is still great. One of the greatest of all time.

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