Cristiano Ronaldo: Assessing Superstar's Goal-Scoring Record vs. Barcelona
Los Blancos came from behind to snare a 1-1 draw against the Catalan club in the opening leg. They must now face a very tough task to beat Barca at the Nou Camp in order to progress to the final. They'll need to either beat the Spanish league leaders or draw from 2-2 or higher—something that doesn't seem like an easy feat against a dominant team like Barcelona.
If they are going to topple their rivals, the man that will no doubt be the biggest key for them is superstar winger Ronaldo, who has once again been in great form this year.
The Portuguese international has averaged a goal per game across all competitions this year for Los Blancos, and continues to evolve his dribbling and crossing abilities in order to further enhance the effectiveness of Madrid's attack.
In particular, his work with Angel Di Maria on the opposite wing has been very noticeable. Manchester United is the most recent example of a team who struggled to deal with the pair switching and combining constantly throughout the match. It would come as no surprise that Ronaldo scored in that game given his effectiveness in working with Di Maria.
Simply put, Ronaldo is the heart and soul of Madrid's attack—much like Lionel Messi is Barcelona's—and will carry a huge weight on his shoulders into this one.
He will be expected to attack well and score goals, which the reigning champions will no doubt need him to do here if they are to progress through to the final.
The question is, will Ronaldo have such success?
Will he be able to score goals here against his fierce rivals, and can he have similar success against a team that he plays against all the time?
Let's have a look at the 28-year-old's goal-scoring record against Barcelona throughout the years and assess the likelihood that he dominates for Madrid here.
Prior to Real Madrid
Before making a move to Real Madrid, Ronaldo played against Barcelona three times for Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League—a knockout tie against Barca in 2008, which United would win, as well as the competition final in 2009, which United would lose.
In all three matches, Ronaldo failed to score.
Granted, the Red Devils had a number of attacking alternatives to Ronaldo, but even still, he was largely ineffective playing for the English side against Barca.
The closest he came was a missed penalty at the Nou Camp in the first leg—a match that United would go on to draw 0-0, but then qualify from in the second round.
During La Liga
Ronaldo also has a fascinating record against Barcelona in La Liga, with the superstar striker only beating his rivals once from seven matches.
In that time, Ronaldo has only scored four goals as well—all of which have come in his last four matches against the Spanish giants.
Interestingly, when Ronaldo scores, Madrid have drawn twice and won once. When he doesn't, the games have finished with three losses for Madrid by a combined score of 8-0.
In Knockout Tournaments for Madrid
Ronaldo has played a total of 10 knockout-based matches against Barcelona throughout the UEFA Champions League, Super Cup and Copa del Rey.
Yet much like his La Liga record, Ronaldo has only beaten the current La Liga leaders on one occasion—a 2-1 victory last year in the Supercopa in which Barca were reduced to 10 men mid-way through the first half after Ronaldo had fired the hosts' second goal into the net.
His goal-scoring record might not read like great viewing, but it is here that his prowess has been particularly important for the Spanish giants.
Ronaldo has netted six goals in total, with two Copa del Rey goals in particular leading to key results for Madrid. One was the goal to bring Madrid back from 2-0 down to 2-2 in their 2012 clash whilst the other was an extra-time game-winner in April 2011.
Also interesting is the fact that out of the 10 knockout games that Ronaldo has played for Madrid, not once was he ever substituted. The Portuguese star has played all 920 minutes for the club and will be largely expected to do the same again here.
With all of that in mind then, how likely (or unlikely) is Ronaldo to score against Barcelona in their upcoming Copa del Rey fixture?
Well, there's two more important aspects to consider here—recent form and at the Nou Camp—as well as his previous record in Copa del Reys.
We know that his record in the competition stands at three goals in four games, and that in the tournament he has only lost to Barca once in his career. Yet his recent form and away form in particular are also very fascinating to consider here.
Away from home, Ronaldo has netted seven goals from his past seven matches—and he has not lost at the Nou Camp except in the Supercopa.
His last game without a goal at the Nou Camp came back in 2011, where Madrid picked up a key 1-1 draw in the UEFA Champions League. Other than that, he has scored in every fixture against the Catalan club at the Nou Camp since 2010, where Madrid were soundly beaten to nil.
Thus expect Ronaldo to once again be in the goals here.
He has been in particularly good form of late, and has a strong history of success against Barcelona—especially when playing away from home at the Nou Camp. Typically a tough venue to play, but the Portuguese winger seems to constantly fire there and can be expected to do so again this week.
Though I'm sure he'd swap a goal for a win any day of the week.
How will Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid fare vs. Barcelona?
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