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Ronaldo's travails tighten skirmish for Ballon d'Or

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-26 07:40

MADRID - Two games without a goal is run of the mill for most soccer players, but for Cristiano Ronaldo it constitutes a drought.

Ronaldo's travails tighten skirmish for Ballon d'Or

Cristiano Ronaldo  

Ronaldo will be looking to forget his early-season struggles as Real Madrid aims to lay down a marker in its quest for a third consecutive Champions League at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

The Portuguese remains the strong favorite to match Lionel Messi's record of five Ballon d'Or wins for his starring role in guiding Madrid to a first La Liga and Champions League double in 59 years.

However, Messi's sensational form for Barcelona and the attention garnered by Neymar's $264 million world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain last month has starved Ronaldo of the attention he craves.

All three were named last week as the finalists for FIFA's Men's Player Award for 2017.

It is Ronaldo, though, who has so far failed to hit his stratospherically high standards this season as Real has fallen seven points behind Barca in the La Liga title race.

A five-match suspension for pushing a referee after being sent off in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup has been the principle cause.

Ronaldo accused the Spanish soccer authorities of "persecution" in relation to the length of the ban.

Since returning to action a rusty Ronaldo misfired badly as Real's run of scoring in 73 straight games was ended in a 1-0 loss to Real Betis last week.

Ronaldo also fired a blank as Madrid edged cellar-dwelling Alaves on Saturday, meaning he had failed to find the net from 18 shots in his last two games.

"Cristiano is like he always is. When he doesn't score you ask me about him, but he is calm," said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

"He wanted to score, which is normal, but it's a long season and he always ends up making the difference."

It would take something extraordinary to deny Ronaldo the Ballon d'Or after scoring 10 times from the Champions League quarterfinals on against top-quality opposition in Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus.

But Messi's reaction to Neymar's departure to PSG has been a telling demonstration of who is really the irreplaceable figure at Camp Nou.

Messi has helped guide Barca to six straight wins in La Liga and a 3-0 thumping of Juventus in the Champions League, with the Argentine scoring 12 goals in nine appearances in all competitions.

Indeed, at club level Messi now has 43 goals in 2017 to Ronaldo's 29.

Neymar's numbers are more modest, with five goals in six games for PSG, but he has adapted well to his new surroundings and new stature as the world's priciest player.

One of the Brazilian's motives for leaving the lure of Messi and Barcelona behind was reportedly his desire to win the Ballon d'Or.

But at 25 his rise in stature is likely to come in future years, after the dominance of Messi, 30, and Ronaldo, 32, begins to wane.

Neymar will need to live up to the hype of his record price tag not just in Ligue 1 but at Champions League level to be crowned the world's best and the visit of Bayern to Parc des Princes on Wednesday is a big opportunity to impress ahead of January's award ceremonies.

Agence France-Presse


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