Cristiano Ronaldo: Striker Makes Real Madrid's 2nd Options More Dangerous

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Cristiano Ronaldo: Striker Makes Real Madrid's 2nd Options More Dangerous
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo makes teammates better, even if he isn't playing well.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. After commanding the highest transfer fee in the history of Soccer and being one of the sport's highest paid players, his future with the team was a topic of discussion among futbol fans. The topic came to the forefront when Ronaldo was recently interviewed by FIFA regarding his contract and playing for Madrid.

““I want to see out my contract at Real Madrid,” Ronaldo said. “I’m very clear about that. After that, well, I don’t know what’ll happen in the future.

“I think there’s more pressure at Madrid than at United. I’ve been here for 3½ years now and I think that’s the case because everyone involved is totally focused on winning the club’s 10th European Cup. That creates a certain amount of anxiety, which can be felt at all times.

Regardless of the sport, teams never want to hear their star player talk of playing out his contract. Comments of this nature give the impression that it is unlikely the player stays longer than his current deal.

But while teams might not enjoy players talking contracts, they abhor their elite players speaking of pressure and anxiety.

After serving a one-game suspension Ronaldo stopped talking and started playing. Unfortunately, upon his return against Valencia in the leg quarter final match of the Copa Del Rey, he played like someone with anxiety.

Early in the match, Ronaldo had two separate chances to put his team ahead on free kicks (considered to be one of his strengths), and was not able to put the ball on net on either occasion. Later in the game, another promising chance arose with Cristiano storming into the box, only to take too big of a touch trying to get past a defender and giving the ball up.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Karim Benzema is a beneficiary of Ronaldo's presence.

That is not to say that Ronaldo was not of use to his team. A few days after they were unable to score a goal against bottom-feeder Osasuna, Madrid scored two goals with their star back in the fold (despite him not playing particularly well). This is why he is one of the highest paid players in the world, not just because he is one of the best, but because he forces his teammates to rise to the occasion.

With Ronaldo probing the defense and forcing them to spread out, he was able to help his team without the ball. The much maligned Karim Benzema was able to score the two goals that would be the difference in the game with Ronaldo at his side. Benzema is the perfect type of player to complement Ronaldo. As any French fan knows, he struggles when he is counted on to score goals (a high of two goals in any international season), but flourishes when he is the second fiddle (21 goals for Real Madrid last year).

Comparing Benzema’s two recent games, one with Ronaldo and one without, leaves us with a perfect illustration of his value. It is because of this effect that Real Madrid would be crazy to let him leave.

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