Cristiano Ronaldo Must Build off Recent Success for Real Madrid to Rescue Season

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 05:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid salutes the crowd at the end of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second leg match between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford on March 5, 2013 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

At this point, it would take a miracle for Real Madrid to defend their La Liga title. Barcelona's current edge is likely insurmountable, which means Cristiano Ronaldo must lead his squad to success in other competitions to salvage the season.

Based on his performances in recent weeks, first scoring twice to earn a spot in the Copa del Rey final by eliminating Barcelona and then scoring the winner against Manchester United to reach the Champions League quarterfinals, he's aiming to do exactly that.

Ronaldo has a massive amount of pressure on his shoulders every time he takes the pitch, and it's only amplified in marquee games like any El Clasico or Champions League match. In the past, he didn't always handle those situations well.

The extremely talented forward would either be invisible during the run of play or, if he was heavily involved, lack the finishing touch necessary to push Los Blancos over the top.

It seems like helping the club end Barca's reign atop La Liga last season has really had a positive impact on him in terms of confidence on the big stage. The last couple of weeks have shown he can rise to the occasion on a consistent basis.

That's exactly what Real Madrid needs from him down the stretch if they are going to prevent the campaign from becoming a total loss. The league championship may be out of reach, but they can still add a couple of other trophies.

The Champions League is obviously the top priority. Knocking off the current Premier League leaders and Ronaldo's former club represented one major hurdle cleared. Barcelona is in danger against AC Milan ahead of the second leg, which could remove another.

As long as Ronaldo is in top form, Los Blancos are certainly a serious title threat. They certainly seem to be building steam with each passing victory, as illustrated by the consecutive El Clasico wins and road triumph at Old Trafford.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more impressive three-match streak in Europe this season. So the Ronaldo-led side appears to be peaking at the right time, at least in Champions League terms.

Then there's the Copa del Rey, in which the club will face Atletico Madrid for the title in May. Ronaldo's encounter with fellow superstar Radamel Falcao will take center stage in that match.

While Real Madrid should feel good about their chances of claiming the Spanish Cup, it all comes down to Ronaldo maintaining his current form. The entire squad is strong, but he takes it to an entirely different level when he's at his best.

He's definitely been in that type of form lately, which makes it no surprise the club has been able to secure so many key victories.

It's up to Ronaldo to make sure that continues as Real Madrid attempts to finish the season with something to celebrate.