Cristiano Ronaldo's latest cracking free-kick success had a minor but significant distinction from his numerous others.
The Portuguese highlight reel has had a proclivity—from his Manchester United days—to use the top of his foot, without following through, to create a driven, dipping, swerving strike on all his free kicks.
The only problem was that it's nearly impossible to get it over the wall using that technique. It's no coincidence that especially this season in Madrid the majority of his attempts bang into the wall.
Last weekend against Real Zaragoza, Ronaldo curled instead of driving and sweetly bent the 24-yard free kick into the corner with accuracy over power.
It's a single data point, but even if it only implies instead of proving his continued maturation of a player, then it's an important one.
Ronaldo's trademarked technique for dead balls is only practical on longer free kicks where the ball has more distance to sink under the crossbar.
But curling a shot is not only more accurate but provides more spin and dip to get it over the wall and under the bar from inside 28 or so yards.
It only took him five years, but it seems like he finally figured that out.
He gets a lot of attention from simple-minded people for whatever hijinx he chooses to create in his personal life. It's good to know he still finds time to think about improving his game.
It's hard to see why anyone else bothers caring about anything beyond that.
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