Cristiano Ronaldo Reportedly Angered by Rafa Benitez Request for Free-Kick Study

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2015

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 21: Coach of Real Madrid Rafael Benitez and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid look on during the UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at Parc des Princes stadium on October 21, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Rafael Benitez has reportedly put his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo in further jeopardy by suggesting the Portuguese superstar undergo studies to improve his free-kick accuracy.

Ronaldo's set-piece goal in Real's 8-0 drubbing of Malmo in the Champions League on Dec. 8 was his first successfully converted free-kick in over six months, per Goal.com.

However, the 30-year-old reportedly left the room when the Madrid manager suggested he undergo a biometric study in an attempt to improve his strike-rate from dead balls, per Jose Felix Diaz of El Chiringuito (via the Irish Independent).

MARRAKECH, MOROCCO - DECEMBER 20: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF prepares to take a free kick during the FIFA Club World Cup Final match between Real Madrid CF and San Lorenzo at Le Grand Stade de Marrakech on December 20, 2014 in Marrakech, Morocco.
Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Since Benitez's installation as manager at the Bernabeu in the summer consistent rumours have circulated of a divide between Ronaldo and the Spaniard, per Ed Malyon in the Mirror.

The former Liverpool boss is unlikely to have enamoured himself further to Ronaldo by suggesting he needs to improve his free-kick taking. But he arguably has a point.

Though the three-time Ballon d'Or winner has developed a unique free-kick style and has scored some staggering goals in his career, his success rate is remarkably low:

In the Champions League, though he is one of the most successful free-kick takers of the last decade in terms of goals scored, his conversion rate is less than seven per cent, per Opta:

OptaJose @OptaJose

4 - Most direct free-kick goals in #UCL (since 03/04): CRISTIANO RONALDO 10 from 146 attempts Juninho 10/97 Pirlo 5/66 Willian 4/7 Tomahawk.

That is not good enough for a player of his quality, especially when compared with some of the other free-kick specialists in Europe, per WhoScored.com's Ben McAleer.  

It seems strange that Ronaldo would not want to do all he could to improve his conversion rate, not least as it would likely help Real out of their current malaise.

Los Blancos cruised through to the knockout rounds in the Champions League, but defeat to Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday saw them drop five points back from joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Ronaldo has cut an increasingly frustrated figure this season and reports of his potential departure from the Bernabeu in the summer have not been dispelled, per Sky Sports' Guillem Balague.

His reportedly poor relationship with Benitez has added fuel to that particular fire and their latest disagreement is likely to only inflame further rumours of Ronaldo's dissatisfaction at Madrid.


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