“If everybody was at my level, we would be first.”
It’s a quote which has been doing the rounds over the last couple of days. After a 1-0 home defeat in the Madrid derby, where Antoine Griezmann’s second half strike crushed Real Madrid’s La Liga hopes, Cristiano Ronaldo spoke to the press and had a six-minute rant where he continued to blast his team-mates.
Trying to clarify his quotes, Ronaldo said he was talking about his fitness levels rather than his ability. He continued to say that he finds it easier to play on the pitch with players like Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Marcelo rather than players like Lucas Vazquez, Jesé Rodriguez and Borja Mayoral.
Whether it’s been misquoted or not, we all know what Ronaldo thinks. It’s arguable that he may even be right. Eleven of him in a team would be formidable. But, for as long as the word ego springs to mind when he’s mentioned, Ronaldo has never really come out so often and done this.
He’s been knocked off his throne—a throne he thought deserved to be his forever—and it has hurt him. Lionel Messi’s fifth Ballon d’Or meant he could only settle for second place. Everyone knows how much that award means to him, and it’s difficult to imagine him winning it again with the unbelievable form the Argentine continues to show along with his Barca team-mates Neymar and Luis Suarez. Maybe he is finding that his competition has grown, and at the age of 31 he isn’t getting any younger.
It’s not the first time the Portuguese superstar’s press conference has caused a bit of a stir in the media. Before facing PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, he was criticised for not scoring enough away goals this season. The winger snapped: “Who has scored more away goals than me since I joined Real Madrid? No one.” before he walked out of the room. In typical fashion, he scored later on that evening in a 2-0 win.
When asked about Messi’s Johan Cruyff-like penalty, Ronaldo claimed he knew why he passed it for Suarez to score, without actually going in to detail before he stormed off again. Obviously, he’s getting at the fact that Suarez is ahead of him in the race to the Pichichi (golden boot); something he has won for the last two years in succession. And with Messi missing two months of football due to injury earlier on in the season, he was perhaps expected to storm the charts by miles. But Suarez leads the way and it certainly is getting to him.
Would it be surprising if Ronaldo were happier with another personal award rather than the La Liga title; something he’s won once in seven years? It’s not the fact that this selfish attitude is why Real Madrid have only won one title since Ronaldo joined—quite the opposite seeing that he has broken record after record since he came to Madrid—but if he weren’t so self-obsessed maybe his team-mates would have a better chance of winning as a team.
It must get annoying for players around him, even if he has won so many games for them. His self-obsessed character isn’t notable just off the pitch either. Countless times he seems annoyed when someone else scores after he either misses a chance or he is in the easier position to score the goal, and this attitude won’t help his team-mates.
On the same weekend Ronaldo blasted his team, Lionel Messi was the key man in Barcelona’s win over Sevilla to take them twelve points clear of Zinedine Zidane’s team. It perhaps outlines the difference between two of the greatest footballers to grace the planet. One moans after a match where he misses several opportunities, including one just minutes before Atlético opened the scoring, whilst the other carries on and helps his team to come back to win.
There’s no doubt Ronaldo is still one of the best football players in the planet and, although stats can be very misleading when taken out of context, his goal scoring record speaks for itself. But his arrogance seems to be catching up on him, as he can only watch Barcelona swipe footballing glory away from him.
The European Championship in France is probably the last chance he’ll ever get to win anything for Portugal. After heartbreak in 2004 in his home country, Ronaldo will lead his team after almost single-handedly bringing them through qualification.
Can Ronaldo turn around his year? You’d be brave to bet against it. But he must look in the mirror first before slating others around him.