Cristiano Ronaldo: The 5 Biggest Faults with the Real Madrid Star's Game
As a Real Madrid fan, I'm generally a pretty big Cristiano Ronaldo fan. I don't idolize the guy, and certainly have not been pleased with his attitude off the pitch at times, but when it comes to his play on the pitch, I've generally been pleased with what Ronaldo has to offer.
After Lionel Messi, I personally do not believe that there is a footballer who comes close to matching the skill set and physical abilities of Ronaldo.
Xavi and Andres Iniesta are magnificient footballers in their own ways, but when comparing them directly with Ronaldo, I do not believe their individual abilities are better. This may be a controversial statement for many Barcelona fans to take, but I strongly stand by my opinion.
And yet, no footballer is perfect. There is always something that a footballer can do to be a better player, and bring more success to both himself and his team.
With that in mind, here are the five biggest flaws in Ronaldo's game, which if improved could make him an even better player than he already is.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Arguably the biggest criticism that Ronaldo ever receives is that he is a ball hog who never really passes the ball.
While this criticism is a tad off the mark, it is true that Ronaldo could definitely pass more, rather than always trying to take on the defender and finish himself.
It must be said though that Ronaldo does possess excellent vision and the ability to make incredible passes, as he showed earlier this season. For Ronaldo, it's not about developing the ability to pass better, but simply using his already excellent passing abilities more often.
Ronaldo has been gradually improving in this department, having assisted 13 league goals last season and six league goals already this season, as opposed to the six league goals his assisted altogether in his last season at Manchester United, and the eight league goals he assisted the season before.
Now it's just about building on that positive progress through the rest of the 2011-12 season.
Coolness Under Pressure
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Another common criticism of Ronaldo, though probably not as common as the previous criticism in this slideshow, is that he melts under pressure, and is simply not good enough when the big games come around.
Ronaldo haters and skeptics have certainly been provided with a decent amount of ammunition for this criticism.
Immediate examples of Ronaldo choking under pressure that come to mind are his missed penalty in the 2007-08 Champions League final against Chelsea, as well as his poor performance in the 2008-09 Champions League final against Barcelona.
Ronaldo's performances internationally for Portugal have also provided skeptics with a great of ammunition, as Ronaldo was unable to will his team to victory against the technically inferior Greece in Euro 2004, and was also rather ineffective in Portugal's unsuccessful 2010 World Cup campaign.
Yet, as with his passing, this is a flaw in Ronaldo's game which he has improved on significantly in recent years.
For Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo has performed well in multiple big games. He scored the penalty in the second Clasico match of the 2010-11 season, and scored the winning goal in the following Clasico match, which was the Copa del Rey final.
As for Portugal, the argument for Ronaldo being a poor performer internationally has generally been a weak one.
Ronaldo was a dead-on candidate for Best Young Player of the 2006 World Cup before his conduct in the Portugal v England match resulted in the award being given to Podolski, and Ronaldo goalscoring record of 32 goals in 87 international caps is definitely nothing to scoff at.
But much more recently, Ronaldo proved against Bosnia & Herzegovina that he can be his country's hero when the pressure is on.
With Portugal needing to win at home to get to Euro 2012, it was Cristiano Ronaldo who scored two sublime goals to kickstart Portugal's 6-2 rout of B&H and secure Portugal's place in the competition.
Long story short: Ronaldo has had trouble shining in the big games where his skill and magic is needed, but in recent years he has definitely shown much more poise than he has in the past.
If he continues to improve at this, he undoubtedly become a much more dangerous player than he already is.
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Okay, I'm not going to pull out all the flopping and diving videos for this slide. We all know they're out there and that they exist (however, feel free to post the best compilations you know in the comments section; I know the Barca fans out there probably have them stashed away on their computer's ready to whip out on a second's notice).
Ronaldo, for most of his career, has had a tendency to dive to pick up cheap penalties or fouls. This is a fact that even the most passionate Ronaldo supporter must be ready to accept.
I would like to put the same positive spin on this slide that I have on the last two slides, but I think the jury is definitely still out on whether or not Ronaldo's diving days are behind them.
I haven't seen any ridiculous dives for the Portuguese captain as of late, either internationally or in La Liga, but its impossible to really say that Ronaldo has really gotten over his bad habit until he gets through at least a season's worth of Clasicos without any blatant dives.
When that happens, then I think Ronaldo will win over a lot of respect from those who dislike him for his attempts to constantly manipulate the referee. And his reputation, both now and in the future, will be all the better for it.
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
At Manchester United, everyone knew there was one thing that you could not ask Ronaldo to do, and that was to play defense.
On offense, Ronaldo would make all sorts of runs to get himself open and in a good position to score or receive the ball, but when his team lost the ball, Ronaldo generally preferred to complain to the referee about a foul he felt he deserved than run back on defense to prevent the counter-attack.
There is a saying that the best offense is a good defense. Actually, that's a lie, the saying is actually the opposite of that, but the point is that if Ronaldo wants to become better than he already is, playing defense would be a really good place to start.
It seems like Jose Mourinho has been able to successfully transmit this message to Ronaldo, as he has been seen running back on defense on a number of occasions this season, as well as pressing the opposing team when Real Madrid do not have possession of the ball.
So, in what seems to have become a recurrent message in the slideshow, keep it up Ronaldo; more defensive output will surely make you a more valuable player to both Portugal and Real Madrid, and a better overall player as well.
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
For most of his career, the tag of being "a whiny brat" attributed to Ronaldo by his haters.
It's not just the diving that has earned Ronaldo this tag, though it undoubtedly plays a big role. There are other factors that can make Ronaldo a guy who's just really hard to like.
His constant pandering to referees to issue cards and give him fouls can be pretty childish and irritating at times. Practically everyone will remember the Rooney incident in the 2006 World Cup as evidence of this.
The way he caries himself in the media has also factored into why Ronaldo is tagged as "a whiny brat." Many will remember Ronaldo comments just a few months ago when he claimed that people only boo him because he is "rich, handsome and a great player."
Even if Ronaldo is all those things, to come out and say that he is rich, handsome, and a great player portrays Ronaldo as an arrogant and immature footballer, qualities that don't make great leaders.
And as captain of Portugal and leader of Real Madrid's charge on Barcelona's hold over La Liga and the Champions League, that needs to change.
Ronaldo already possesses more than enough passion to be a great leader. If he can maintain an air of professionalism in the heated situations as well, then he indeed become a great leader, and finally be able to win the trophies that he desires to win with Real Madrid.
Given the relative recentness of Ronaldo's comments, its hard to say he's started improving, but surely under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, Ronaldo should be able to develop into a true leader.
Here's hoping it happens sooner rather than later.
Julian Finney/Getty Images
I could've created more categories of faults that Ronaldo needs to fix, but I feel like the aforementioned five categories encompass everything that Ronaldo needs to work on to reach his maximum potential.
As stated on the various slides, Ronaldo has already made decent strides in improving in three of the five categories—Passing, Coolness Under Pressure, and Defense—and improvement in the last two categories, Diving and Leadership, should develop in due time.
Once he does make significant improvement in all five of these categories, watch out Lionel Messi, because Ronaldo may just be in the mood to take his crown back.