Bayern's loss to Real Madrid

Real Madrid: What’s happening to Ronaldo and Benzema?

Just six months after Cristiano Ronaldo racked up 25 league goals to propel Real Madrid to the Liga title, the Portuguese hitman seems to have lost his goalscoring touch all of a sudden.

While the champions eased to a 3-0 victory over Las Palmas on Sunday, the fact that neither Ronaldo nor Karim Benzema found the net is starting to cause concern in certain sections of the Bernabeu. Benzema has scored two goals in 28 shots, and he doesn’t seem too bothered. The Frenchman is becoming less involved in games these days. Evidently was his paltry 12 successful passes on Sunday.

There were audible groans when he missed a one-on-one in the opening exchanges and he was booed off the pitch when he was substituted after making little impact in yet another match. When former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker recently tweeted that Benzema was “overrated”, the Frenchman reacted by accusing the Englishman of spreading “hatred”.

Unfortunately for Benzema, the numbers do not add up. Apart from the strike against Getafe, he has found the net only once this season, during the Spanish Super Cup second leg win over Barcelona. It is a poor return in 11 appearances in all competitions this season.

For Ronaldo, meanwhile, it’s one goal in 48 shots. But unlike Benzema, the Portuguese superstar contributes reasonably well in open play and takes up intelligent positions in the penalty area. He provided the perfect pinpoint pass for Isco’s third.  “Cristiano gave the assist, and I know he was very happy with it,” Zinedine Zidane assured after the match. But clearly, Ronaldo was far from happy as he didn’t even celebrate, and looked like he had just missed a chance!

In fact, the duo has not scored in La Liga since hitting a goal apiece as Real laboured to a 2-1 victory over Getafe three weeks ago. Those strikes remain their only league goals this campaign. The fact that club’s top scorers are midfielders Marco Asensio and Isco, with four each, says it all. A far cry from Lionel Messi’s 12 goals for Barcelona.

Indeed, Zidane will be perturbed by the ordeal of his frontmen. But it is Ronaldo’s situation that appears to be the most disturbing. At 32, it is possible that we are simply bearing witness to Ronaldo’s inevitable, gradual decline. He scored 61 goals across all competitions in the 2014-15 season. That figure decreased to 51 the following year, and then to 42 in 2016-17.

More surprisingly, Ronaldo has the same number of league goals, though he did serve a five-game suspension at the start of the season and has netted six times in the Champions League.

“Cristiano and Benzema do things well on the pitch. Isco scores from Ronaldo’s cross, for example,”  Zidane said when quizzed about their goal droughts. “They’re setting them up at the moment – but runs change.” While fans are hoping the lean spell will end soon, patience is wearing thin where Benzema is concerned.

Nevertheless, not for the first time this season, the Portuguese cut a frustrated figure during the game.

“Their goals will come. Karim is more generous in that sense. Cristiano goes home annoyed when he doesn’t score, but we’re not worried,” said captain Sergio Ramos. “They make the difference and the most important thing is to win. They’ll start scoring.”

However, with the champions trailing league leaders Barcelona by eight points and a trip to Atletico Madrid after the international break, Real need their misfiring duo to find their shooting boots quickly.

About the Author Toby

An unrepentant soccer freak other freaks call geek.

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