Is Ronaldo On The Decline?
With Wales’ historic Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal in mind, it is hard not to summarise this as a battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Each side’s respective superstar, these individuals will carry the hopes of an entire nation on their shoulder as they look to propel their side to a major European final.
If you were to believe much of the media hype prior to the game, however, you would probably arrive at the conclusion that Bale has enjoyed a far superior tournament. Some have even gone so far as to claim that Bale is set to supersede Ronaldo as Real Madrid’s dominant player, as the Portuguese enters a perceived period of decline.
Is Ronaldo really on the Decline?
Statistics can be twisted to support any claim or assertion, however, despite the fact that only a select few distinguish great from merely good players. While Bale may have completed more dribbles and executed a higher percentage of shots on target, for example, closer examination of the numbers that matter reveal that both players have enjoyed largely similar tournaments to date.
Bale leads by three goals to two at present, having scored in all of the group stage games. He also provided the decisive cross which Northern Ireland’s Gareth McAuley turned into his own net in the second round, although this remains the Welshman’s only assist while he has created just four chances to date. In contrast, Ronaldo has supplemented his two strikes with a further two assists, including the saved shot which was turned home by Ricardo Quaresma for the winner against Croatia.
The forward has also laid on eight chances for his teammates, the majority of which were carelessly wasted.
The Truth about Ronaldo: Why he is here to stay for a little while longer
As we can see, Ronaldo remains an influential attacking force who has been directly involved in four of Portugal’s six tournament goals so far. He is also a constant menace with the ball, while his bravery and confidence means that he will always demand possession regardless of his performance. So even though Bale has been slightly more consistent in Euro 2016, few would bet against Ronaldo having the final say in the semi-final.
As a player who is now in his thirties and heavily reliant on his pace and athleticism, Ronaldo will surely become marginally less effective in time. His immense drive and level of physical fitness mean that this day is still a long way off, however, and for now he remains a world class forward who can win any game in an instant.