Predictions for Cristiano Ronaldo During Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2014

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 22:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF warms up during a team training session ahead of his El Clasico match against Barcelona at Valdebebas training ground on March 22, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

El Clasico is once again upon us as the two mighty forces of Spanish football battle it out for total La Liga supremacy.

All the focus will once again be on the 29-year-old mercurial talent of Cristiano Ronaldo, the reigning FIFA Ballon d'Or winner and the sole heavyweight challenger for Lionel Messi's "best player in the world" tag. 

For some, he has already achieved this, breaking records in a ruthless manner with his star quality shining brighter than the Barcelona legend's at present.

A special performance and victory will see Ronaldo and his teammates shoot seven points clear of Messi and co. and take them one step closer to their collective goal of being champions of Spain once more.

Ronaldo is currently averaging more than a goal per game this season in the domestic league. He has netted 25 times in just 24 La Liga appearances, per Squawka.

His immediate ambition will be to put Barcelona to the sword on Sunday and win yet another round in his endless battle with Messi. 

European football writer Andy West of BBC Sport wrote this last week about the match and Ronaldo:

On Sunday, Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo will find themselves on the same pitch when the two teams meet in this season's second El Clasico. Perhaps it is time to revise that perception and consider the possibility that Ronaldo is just as good as - or even better than - his eternal Argentine rival.

West is correct. Ronaldo is no longer the perpetual pretender to Messi. He is now too good for that. His development since his days at Manchester United have followed an upwards curve that seems to have no end, and Messi can only watch as the Portuguese superstar improves even more every season. 

Impossible to Mark

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

You have to go back to the end of October of last year to find out when Real Madrid last lost a game of football.

And lo and behold, that was against Barcelona in the Nou Camp in the last El Clasico game to take place.

That evening, Barcelona won 2-1 in what was a very even match, as recorded by

Ronaldo attempted to play on the counter-attack, using his blistering pace to great effect. If it was not for some poor finishing from the Galacticos, it could have been a very different story at the end of the game.

One of Ronaldo's great strengths now is his ability to wander yet still be a danger from almost every forward position.

His heatmap for the game in October shows his coverage across the ground. 

The whole of the opposition's half is his playground, and he has complete freedom to pick the ball up in any of the attacking areas he desires. 

This makes Barcelona's task even harder, knowing they cannot man-mark him and allow him to create space for his teammates by them paying special attention to his own specific movements.

With the form that Madrid are showing as a team, and the personal performance level of Ronaldo at present, you can expect the Galacticos to enforce their own brand of attacking football on Barcelona and look to put their opponent to the sword as early as possible.

The Partnership with Gareth Bale

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

One of the reason's for Madrid's consistent winning streaks this year has come about as a result of the newly formed partnership of Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Popular thinking led to many believing that Bale might be a replacement for the ageing Ronaldo, but Carlo Ancelotti has shown no intention of this and has created one of the most fluid attacks in world football.

As previously mentioned, Ronaldo has a better than a goal-per-game ratio this season in Spain, but winger Bale has a marvellous goal record himself.

The 24-year-old Welshman has 14 goals and 14 assists from his 27 La Liga and Champions League matches this season, proving to be worth every penny that his new club spent on him. 

Together Ronaldo and Bale could take Real Madrid to new heights that even exceed the great recent era of Raul, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo. 

On Sunday evening, Ronaldo and Bale will facilitate a power shift in Spanish football. Their potency will not be denied and their brilliance will electrify the capital city. 

Ronaldo will show why he is now the alpha male of world football and the biggest individual dominant force in European club football.


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