After a much-needed winter break, Real Madrid head back into La Liga action on Monday evening, when Cristiano Ronaldo will lead Los Merengues against a Celta Vigo side struggling to solidify their place among Spain's elite.
At the midway mark in the season, Carlo Ancelotti's side sit eight points off the pace currently being set by Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, although this evening's game in hand offers the chance to cut that gap to five.
With the money that has been spent at the Bernabeu in recent years, including the purchase of the most expensive player of all time in Gareth Bale, Real have assembled a cast of stars that strikes fear as much as any other outfit in Europe.
However, even a band of brothers boasting this kind of pedigree needs its leader, and who else to better provide the beacon than Ronaldo, the man widely tipped as frontrunner for the 2013 Ballon d'Or award?
So far this season, the Portuguese has done just that. In 16 league outings this campaign, Ronaldo has scored 18 goals and made six assists, coming off in only one of those fixtures, per Transfermarkt.co.uk.
Based on those stats, it may seem as though arguably the best player in the world is already doing his utmost to provide the club with silverware, yet Ancelotti must demand more of his talisman if Madrid are to be crowned champions.
Two of the four games in which Real have dropped points this term have come against those giants ahead of them in the standings, losses to Barcelona and Atletico.
Draws against Villarreal and Osasuna have also set Los Blancos back in their pursuit, both of which Ronaldo featured in for the full 90 minutes.
During those four matches Ronaldo scored just once, which suggests that when he doesn't perform, neither do Madrid.
As ridiculous as it may sound, Ronaldo has to push himself even further to make the difference in such games. Although the former Manchester United star has shone for periods even in those disappointing results, he has failed to make a telling impact when it matters most.
As the Mail Online suggests, Ronaldo is two goals away from his 400-goal career landmark, which is well within reach of being broken against Celta Vigo:
That being said, such accolades are almost meaningless if Real's results aren't first in his priorities.
Of course, that's not to say Ronaldo will be tracking back to do his centre-back's job for him or standing on the centre-circle for every tackle and 50/50 headed duel. He needs his team-mates to provide the foundation on which to work.
However, the great players decide the big games, and Ronaldo has failed in Madrid's two biggest fixtures of the season to date.
As one of the finest figures that football has seen nears the latter stages of his career, the time has come for Ronaldo to show he can lead a team to glory.
When the Ballon d'Or is handed out, he is up against two players in Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery who both won major honours last season. Ronaldo won nothing.
What better way to change that trend than when Real are counted as the outsiders of Spain's top three to win the title?
Given the talent within, Ancelotti's squad can most certainly still make 2013-14 a campaign to be remembered, but it requires a base on which to build those fantasies; it needs Ronaldo to be more.
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