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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo: The Most Underrated Man in Football?

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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo: The Most Underrated Man in Football?
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo: The Most Underrated Player in World Football?

After his poor performance for Real Madrid against FC Barcelona in El Clasico on Saturday, many have questioned Cristiano Ronaldo's ability and if he is actually a "big-time player."

In the latest El Clasico, at the Santiago Bernabeu, Barca won 3-1, with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas, after Karim Benzema had given hosts Real a dream start inside the first minute.

Main man Ronaldo was given a large part of the blame for Real's demise to the current La Liga and Champions League champions, with many claiming his performance was selfish and that he left his team a man short.

It follows the ever-growing amount of criticism the Portugal star is getting for some of his performances, with claims that he's too selfish and doesn't turn up in important matches.

But is it the case that Cristiano Ronaldo is actually a rather underrated player?

After all, selfish or not, Ronaldo does have a slightly better goals-to-games ratio than Lionel Messi in La Liga at the moment, scoring 1.13 goals per game compared to Messi's 1.06 goals per game.

Whatever way you look at it, that's a ton of goals, and technically makes Ronaldo the best domestic player in the world at the moment.

Not bad at all considering Jose Mourinho plays Ronaldo on the left wing, whereas Pep Guardiola puts Messi in the centre of his front three.

It is claimed, however, and sometimes quite rightly, that Ronaldo is just there to get onto chances made by Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria, etc. whereas Messi actually works more for the team.

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That may be true to a certain extent, considering Messi has made more assists and key passes this season, but Ronaldo has chipped in with six assists in the league so far this term.

And he's done it in a more clinical fashion than Messi, creating a goal for a teammate once every four chances he makes for them, with the Barca star setting up a goal once in every five chances created.

So as the best domestic goal scorer in the world at the moment, and one of the most clinical assist-makers in Europe right now, is Ronaldo really that bad?

And regardless of statistics and whether Ronaldo is as good as Messi, does he really flop on the big occasions?

He certainly underperformed in El Clasico on Saturday, but so did Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso and Lassana Diarra, three tactically important players who are most vital when it comes to starting attacks.

However, to claim he's not a "big-time player" could be a bit of a stretch, seen as Ronaldo scored the winner in the 2011 Copa Del Rey Final against Barcelona, denying La Blaugrana another Tripla Corona.

For Manchester United, he scored the opener in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final against Chelsea and was voted the Fans' Man of the Match for the game in Moscow.

And the season after, Ronaldo was again influential for United as they made it to yet another Champions League Final.

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Cristiano Ronaldo: Technically Better Than Lionel Messi In La Liga Right Now
He scored a sensational 40-yard screamer against FC Porto in the quarterfinals, then almost single-handedly destroyed Arsenal at the Emirates in the semifinals as he notched a brace.

It all adds to a history of big-time performances from Ronaldo, starting in 2004 when the then 19-year-old lad, in his first season in English football after signing from Sporting Lisbon, lit up the Millenium Stadium as he scored and was influential in United winning the FA Cup.

The list could go on really of all the times he's performed well on big occasions, not least of all in his first El Clasico, coming back after injury to put in an inspired performance at the Camp Nou. 

His team lost 1-0 thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but he proved then he could live up to his £80 million price tag, and went on to score 33 goals that season and form a great partnership with Gonzalo Higuain.

Ronaldo didn't exactly light up the Bernabeu on Saturday night, but to say he chokes on the big stage, or as some commenters here on Bleacher Report have said, isn't even one of the top 10 players in the world, could well be a fairly big exaggeration.

Let's not kid ourselves, Cristiano Ronaldo isn't as good as Lionel Messi, and does tend struggle against FC Barcelona.

But again, let's not kid ourselves, a man who was La Liga's top scorer last season with 41 goals in 34 games, a man who has fully justified an £80 million price tag with 107 goals in 110 games so far, isn't exactly a small-time player.

The fact is, Ronaldo is a damn good player. He may be no Messi, but he most definitely is the next best player to him.

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