Examining Cristiano Ronaldo's Improved Form with Real Madrid

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Examining Cristiano Ronaldo's Improved Form with Real Madrid
Associated Press
Cristiano Ronalo Netting One Of His 21 League Goals This Season

If there's going to be one man to regain the La Liga title for Real Madrid this season, it's going to be Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 28-year-old Ballon d'Or winner has already scored 21 league goals for Carlo Ancelotti's side in just 24 appearances—providing 27.6 percent of the team's goals, per WhoScored.com.

And with the side sitting just one point behind league leaders Barcelona, the pressure is on Ronaldo to continue the form that saw him top 400 career goals this season.

In an interview with The Telegraph, former manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to Ronaldo's rise—stating his belief that addressing "diving issues" has improved the winger's game.

I have tried to address it myself with some of my players over the years. When Cristiano first joined us he had that dramatic action but he listened very carefully that you can't do that and he improved tremendously and has been an even better player because of it.

Despite his improvement with diving, questions still remain regarding the Portuguese star's all-round play. Ronaldo is a notoriously more attack-minded, hindering his desire to track back and help his side defensively.

Ronaldo, per WhoScored.com, only averages 0.8 tackles per game and has only blocked one shot in La Liga this season, and if the side are going to retain their chance of silverware this season, big-name players must start taking responsibility on all areas on the pitch.

Barcelona have lost just one of their last six games—a 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao—however, they have also dropped points against second-place Atletico Madrid and Levante, allowing Real Madrid to close the gap on the Catalan side and their city rivals.

The side's match against Granada on 25 January will offer the perfect opportunity for Los Galacticos to continue their title charge, and it's a match that Ronaldo seems to be looking forward to:

Home comforts will suit Real Madrid, a side who haven't dropped points since their 2-2 draw with Osasuna on 14 December, nor lost a match at Santiago Bernabeu since 10 December 2011, when they were beaten 3-1 by Barcelona.

This long-range shot from Ronaldo, against Real Betis last weekend, highlighted Ronaldo's ability not only with his right peg, but also his endeavour to graft chances out of nothing:

There's still a long season to go for Cristiano and his team-mates, many of whom will be not only hungry to regain the league title, but also push past Barcelona's 100-point total from last year.

Ronaldo is in perfect company to complete any of his personal and team achievements, but he will have to keep up his current work-rate to ensure both the short-term and long-term improvement of the club.

His five league assists this season have come at crucial times, gaining a point at Osasuna and a 1-0 win at Granada—telling of his influence within the team.

And at a team that has historically been known for highly paid, sought-after players, now is the time for Ronaldo to stand up and be counted for not only his own game, but that of his colleagues.

Karim Benzema's rise back to form has largely been thanks to Ronaldo's work-rate on the pitch, and with Gareth Bale now in the fold, Ronaldo finds himself in a more advanced role than when he joined in 2009.

Madrid's regular midfield trio of Angel Di Maria, Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso have assisted just 10 goals between them this year—a lack of support from midfield that isn't exactly indicative of Real's goal tally.

However, it's in the final third that the side have crafted their strikes, with Gareth Bale leading the assist charts with seven in his maiden La Liga season, per WhoScored.com, and five assists apiece for Ronaldo and Benzema.

Last season, Ronaldo amassed just 10 assists with the focus solely on scoring the goals to win matches, but it seems now the Portuguese has looked to mould his style—he's still firmly a goalscoring winger, but now he's one with less greed and more willingness to bring others into play.

And if there's any view that Ronaldo's newfound ability to assist will impact his flair, think again. This is his assist for Alvaro Morata last weekend:

This change will only prove to help Real Madrid in coming years, as well as on the international stage—a new Ronaldo with an expanded legacy to leave.

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