Real Madrid

Real Madrid finally got it right… La Decima… And Ronaldo can get his third Ballon D’or

Carlo Pic
Real Madrid finally found a suitable formula this year, and it’s been so unconventional that it’s somehow become practical… To start, Carlo Ancelotti has been exactly what Ronaldo’s needed, a manager with a calm demeanor that has never gotten too full of himself to take away the spotlight from his number 9. And, the other thing that they got right – Gareth Bale – a player that shines in big games where Ronaldo does not…

Whereas Ronaldo seems intimidated and swept away by being on center stage (despite the fact that he loves to be there) during huge matches, it seems Gareth Bale is intrepid and thrives off it. He veins are ice cold and he never seems taken aback by the fierceness that comes with a big match.

… Back to Ancelotti, his starting lineup this year draws some comparisons to Barcelona’s over the better part of the past decade… Di Maria acts like Iniesta, weaving his way through defenders from center midfield to help start attacks, and sometimes finish them. Modric is like Xavi, he can make the right passes and knows when to join the attack and stay back with Alonso. And, Xabi Alonso (who I believe has been their most solid player this year, despite his somewhat long injury absence this campaign) is a jewel in front of Ramos and Pepe – his positioning, attentiveness, and awareness are absolutely outstanding. Let me put it this way, Sergio Busquets (who plays a similar role with Barca, and I think is massively overrated) has nothing on Xabi Alonso…

Let me repeat myself, Real Madrid finally got it right – and this has huge ramifications on their fiercest rival and counterpart Barcelona, specifically, their gem, Leo Messi. Real has a team that’s young enough to shine for at least the next five years. Barcelona’s needs a complete overhaul, Xavi should not start anymore (Barca can’t run their attack through him anymore), they need someone with more attacking pop. In other words, they need to transition to a system of attack with faster buildup… Neymar doesn’t thrive in a system that appreciates possession like Barca’s, in fact, I’d venture as far to say that if Neymar were to be on Real, and Bale on Barca, Neymar would have excelled just as much (if not even more) this year. Furthermore, Messi is only 26 years old, he needs to be part of an attack that emphasizes speed, and some semblance of the counterattack, instead of a pure possession. I know these guys are all long shots, but Barca need to buy someone like Reus, Lucas, Bernard, or Julian Draxler… and they never should have let Thiago move to Bayern… But let’s move on… Real Madrid’s success this year has huge consequences on the football world… Specifically on Leo Messi…

First of all, Ronaldo is probably the happiest man alive at the moment… He knows better than anyone whatRonaldo Pic the Le Decima means… yes, that’s right, another Ballon D’or… Which of course can be solidified with a great performance at this summer’s World Cup… The only thing standing in his way, and perhaps his worst nightmare, would be for Argentina to lift the World Cup. That said though, I do believe that if Diego Costa shines this summer, he could also be a huge contender for the Ballon D’or next year as well… But anyway…

Ronaldo’s stats this past campaign have been nothing short of miraculous, 51 goals in 47 appearances vs. Messi’s 41 goals in 46 appearances (in all competitions)… Ronaldo scored 17 of those goals in the Champions league alone, a record that he now holds over Messi. Here’s the interesting part that needs to be emphasized: For the first time in forever Ronaldo is holding his own destiny in his hands… In other words, this year will not be one where he has to wait for Messi to slip-up or get injured in order to get crowned his third Ballon D’or, but rather he must maintain his current form to reach that success – and all signs point to him doing just that.

Bale PicThe additions of Carlo Ancelotti and Gareth Bale couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in Ronaldo’s career, and they couldn’t be more perfect fits. As previously stated, Ancelotti is calm, and he lets the players be themselves – unlike Mourinho, Ancelotti could give two damns how vain his players are and how often they stare at themselves in the mirror. In addition, Mourinho gives off a sense of knowing better than anyone and everyone else, Ancelotti does not – and this does wonders in the Real Madrid dressing room… this allows them to focus on one and only task – winning football matches… In other words, when you have players like those on Real, that already possess swagger, you don’t perpetuate or challenge their sense of entitlement with a manager that has more swagger (Mourinho), and that, my friends, is why Ancelotti was successful this year – he let the players be themselves, he treated them like adults, and he listened to them rather than assuming he knew better than them. No better example is when Real wanted to sell off Di Maria with the idea that it would help finance the purchase of Bale… Ronaldo requested that Di Maria stay and Ancelotti (and Perez) listened… and now Di Maria is a starter.

Ancelotti is a magician, he didn’t show any excitement or get ahead of himself when Bale scored the tying goal against Atlético Madrid this past weekend… he remained calm and collected, and because of that, so did his team… 

Now, only two questions remain: who do you believe has been Real’s most valuable player this campaign? … And at which position should Real Madrid strengthen this summer?  Take a second to answer the poll questions below and in the comments section please let me know which player (at the position you answered in the poll question) should be bought.



17 thoughts on “Real Madrid finally got it right… La Decima… And Ronaldo can get his third Ballon D’or

  1. On your article you mentioned something like “Ronaldo being a big game flop”, for that my friend i stand to differ in my opinion. based on the fact, Ronaldo did not shine in big games this season only when he was injured. something that is ignored is the fact that he was carrying an injury on that final day and that doesn’t make him a flop. other thing is that there is no goal that is not important in the champions league final regardless it being the tenth because it takes a lot of courage to roll that round thing in the back of the nets at such a huge stage. So to justify Ronaldo as a big match flop because of that final is just lame considering his equaliser in that league game against Atletico Madrid and those two goals against Bayern. Also take not that Ronaldo has scored against each team he faced this season in the UCL. The big game flop accusations are now overdue for this guy mate, your title is great but it appears as if it has some personal issues with some individuals. You also mentioned Xabi being the outstanding, I would say no to that again. Modric had no off day this season and simple made the Blancos game more attractive with his box-to-box plays, he is a unique talent.

    • Hi Prince, thanks for your comment! I really appreciate it when readers respond!

      Now back to soccer! … I agree with you about Modric, he’s been awesome all year, although I do think you might be being a bit harsh on Xabi Alonso 🙂

      Xabi (like Ronaldo) has also been injured this campaign but has still played extremely well in my opinion.

      That said, on your point about Ronaldo, I promise that I never explicitly call him a big game flop and nor do I think of him as one – Though I do think that he struggles when the spotlight is solely on him, as it’s been for the last four years (until Bale’s arrival this year). Now with bale on his team, a weight seems to have been lifted off Ronaldo’s back… Bale seems to be that extra piece of the puzzle that gets the job done in big games where (I should have substituted “where” with “when”) Ronaldo does not. In other words, Bale picks up the slack when Ronaldo isn’t performing in big games, and vice versa – Bale’s been the perfect fit.

      Also, I promise I’m no Ronaldo or Barca hater and I maintain no biases against individual players… except Sergio Busquets (Never enjoyed his contributions to the team much, they need someone more aggressive/physically gifted to play his role, they need to TRUST Alex Song, and/or buy a center back and play Javier Mascherano in front of the back four where he’s most comfortable)

  2. Onke Dali says:

    You’re absolutely wrong about Ronaldo, even in your reply to Prince you seem to gloss over your ill advised decision to call him a “big game flop”. The problem with Real Madrid is that in the past few seasons is simple. Real Madrid had no one or no one willing to take up the slack when they faced a top club at an important stage in an important competition.

    Ronaldo, as outstanding as he is cannot be expected to make miracles when his teammates cannot step up when he is double or triple marked. In the CL Ronaldo has scored against every single team they have faced except for one, Dynamo Zagreb. Bayern Munich, 4 times. Dortmund, 3 times, Juve, 3 times, Man United, 2 times. I can go on and on. All important goals considering their opponents. Hell, at one point Ronaldo was dismantling the best Barca team in ages almost single hadedly, scoring 8 times in a row and 7 in a row in Camp Nou.

    You rightly state that Bale has been a great purchase as he has scored in important games. Let me tell you that if Higuain, Benzema, Di Maria, Ozil had performed the way Real players have this season, Madrid would have reached the final in all the last 3 seasons they got knocked out at the semi-final stage. So, Ronaldo has never been a big game flop, his teammates have up until now let him and Real Madrid down by not stepping up to the plate when he was almost neutralized by extreme marking by very organized top European teams. This is a team sport and as much as an individual he is he has done more than humanly possible for the team to win titles, this year everyone joined him and the results show. I put it down to the coach. Finally Real Madrid is a team, not just a club. I expect Ronaldo to further leave Messi in the dust and is on course to claim the 2014 Ballon D’or. The World Cup does not hold much weight in that regard and I know he will perform better than Messi as he has always done in international tournaments.

  3. Hey Onke Dali, thanks for the reply! I’m glad this post has garnered some discussion!

    You make some very valid points – and what we both agree on most is that Bale is the game changer that Ronaldo’s needed for a while for support despite his best efforts over the past four years… In fact, I’m not sure if you copied part of my response to Prince, but I said the same line about Bale picking up the slack… But to continue… 🙂

    You kind of contradict yourself a little bit though… Whereas I make the point that Bale is exactly what Ronaldo has needed ( “a player that shines in big games where Ronaldo does not”), and you agree that Bale’s “picked up the slack,” you also make the contradictory point that had Ronaldo’s teammates “Higuain, Benzema, Di Maria, Ozil had performed the way Real players have this season, Madrid would have reached the final in all the last 3 seasons they got knocked out at the semi-final stage” … but, here’s the thing, it’s not about those players (that are still on the team) as they haven’t changed or performed any better – Bale (and Ancelotti) have transformed this team into a whole new well-oiled machine that runs better… As you said, “Finally Real Madrid is a team, not just a club.”

    The fact of the matter is that Ronaldo hasn’t been the “the difference maker” or “made miracles” in many big games this year as is expected out of a player that isn’t a big game flop… and this is expressed best in the CL games you make note to reference – Ronaldo’s two goals against Bayern in the semi-final were meaningless in comparison to Ramos’ goals, and Ronaldo’s penalty in the final was also rather unneeded.. (Ronaldo didn’t do anything in the first El Clásico this year, and in the second scored off a penalty… and in the semis of the Copa del Rey he didn’t do anything in the first game and scored off of two penalties in the second – not exactly stepping up in the big games) But back to CL, If you trim off the fat (the unneeded Ronaldo goals), Real still would have won in the semi finals and final. The players that did show up in those big games were Ramos and Bale with their header goals (Only when Real had those games locked up did Ronaldo score)… Up to that point in the CL Ronaldo hadn’t really performed any miracle … And we can disagree on this, but I think that a “big game player” is defined by how many miracles he can produce in times of great need.

    To reiterate, I understand you opinion that Ronaldo’s done all that he can over the past couple years (and that you think he has stepped up in big games) but let me say this… there is a difference between stepping it up in big games vs. performing as one usually would (which for Ronaldo is at an extremely high level)… Ronaldo always performs at a high level, but he didn’t perform at a higher level when it mattered most in the CL semis or final. Like I said in my post, “Ronaldo seems intimidated and swept away by being on center stage (despite the fact that he loves to be there) during huge matches.” – and this proves true judging by his meaningless goals in the Semis and Final and his lack of goals in the El Clásico and Copa Del Rey Semis (which as I said, were all penalties)

    One thing we certainly disagree on is the affect that a performance in the World cup has on who wins the Ballon D’or… Fabio Cannavaro won the Ballon D’or solely based on his performance in the world cup in 2006 (remember that was the year Juventus was stripped of their league title for match fixing…)

    Thanks again for responding to the post Onke! Please let me know what you think of my response, there is not much better than talking about footy. 🙂

  4. Anup says:

    Absolutely absurd analysis on Ronaldo. There are plenty of articles written in various other well-known websites by stalwarts on how Ronaldo has evolved as a big-game and big-stage player. All through-out this year he has been superb apart from the CL final (even though he took a good Free-kick and also played well in the second half and won a penalty on his own).He played brilliantly in Portugal’s decider against Sweden (both the legs). He played absolutely brilliantly against Schalke and Borussia. We all saw the difference when he didn’t play in the second leg of Borussia match. Even in La Liga, he scored absolutely stunning goals when it mattered most including the absolute back-heel stunner which kept RM in contention till the end. Only because he was injured, did RM lose out in La Liga. It is pretty evident that the author here is completely biased if not prejudiced. Ronaldo was the best player this season and head and shoulders above the rest. There is no doubt that he is going to claim the third Ballon d’or this year. I would request the author to give examples when Ronaldo didn’t fire when it was most needed.Perhaps the author confused between Messi and Ronaldo where the former flopped all through-out in critical matches.

  5. Hey Anup, thanks for the response! I must say however, you are the one that sounds quite biased and in your remarks, and you also seem to have ignored my factual statements/responses to Onke above — To summarize… (Ronaldo’s two goals against Bayern in the semi-final were meaningless in comparison to Ramos’ goals, and Ronaldo’s penalty in the final was also rather unneeded.. (Ronaldo didn’t do anything in the first El Clásico this year, and in the second he scored off a penalty… and in the semis of the Copa del Rey he didn’t do anything in the first game and scored off of two penalties in the second (and stalwarts say that he clearly flopped to get his penalty in that match. But back to CL, If you trim off the fat (the unneeded Ronaldo goals), Real still would have won in the semi finals and final)

    Furthermore it is quite foolish to blame his absence on Real’s failure to win La Liga… He played against Sevilla FC when they lost 2-1, and he was there against Real Valladolid when they drew 1-1 near the end of the season, and he was also playing against Valencia when they drew 2-2… would you have blamed it on his injury had Real lost the Copa Del Rey this year as well?

    That said, I am not biased or prejudice in the slightest, please reread the article, it’s main point is that Real’s success this season was in large part due to the fact Ancelotti helped transform the team with his system and formation, and that Bale is the partner in crime that Ronaldo has needed and finally has. In other words, Real finally got it right… And that will help contribute to Ronaldo’s chance to win the Ballon D’or next year…

  6. jerjer says:

    Let me guess man. Maybe you are Messi fanboy that just want to talk shit about Ronaldo because you keep on discrediting him really. Your fact is very biased. We all know that Messi and Ronaldo are great players. But only those fanboys made them look really bad. What’s wrong with you?

    Ronaldo is not a “difference maker” or “made miracles”? are you kidding me? Without his goal they might knockout by Dortmund. And you saw how Real Madrid perform without Ronaldo? And yes Bale need to step up really because when Ronaldo out by injury he needs to perform well, just like in Copa final. And Ronaldo did that already to Barca a couple years ago. So what’s your point about big games flop. All classico are big games and Ronaldo always performed. The reason why Barca knock them out because of the intensity of the game and players always fighting on the pitch and Mou can’t handle it well, thanks to Carlo he manage the team very well that’s why Ramos and Pepe now not so hot headed these days. Unlike Mou days they always got red card.

    Semi Finals vs Bayern

    Maybe Ronaldo goals in second leg are meaningless in the eyes of those fanboys, but his presence made the difference. I don’t want to talk about the first leg because he did not score and those fanboys out there keep on discrediting him even he score goals. But he did a great job on that pass to Coentrao though.

    On second leg. We all know Bayern is Bayern. They are a good team just like Xabi said, “Only best team can beat Barca”. They have very good squad and great defenders. If you saw how they hit and defend Ronaldo maybe you realize how important he was on that game. They need to mark 2 to 3 defenders on Ronaldo because they know he’s the scorer that’s the reason why a lot of space given to Ramos, even Bayern didn’t expect that Ramos will score on that play. Because they are all eyeing on Ronaldo. Carlo knows that if Ronaldo on the pitch other players can create space and they need to shine as well because football is a team game and not just about scoring many goals, its about winning as a team.

    Finals vs Atletico

    He has injury but still Carlo decided to put him on the pitch I don’t want to elaborate the reason why. The squad only need his presence though. The goal from Ramos just superb just like his goal vs Bayern but watch the defender who they defended well, Miranda track Ronaldo plus they isolated Bale so Ramos got a lot of space. Modric did a great job though. The whole squad did a great job this year. That goal from Ronaldo just for his countryman scoring goal and getting championship in front of your countryman just simply unbelievable, once in a lifetime opportunity maybe. “Your love makes me strong, your hate makes me unstoppable.” So keep on hating.

    And I hate the fact that every time they talk about Ronaldo they keep on compairing to Messi. They are both great players though.

    (My English is bad.. =))

  7. Hey Jerjer, thanks for the response, and your english is fine!

    That said, I can promise you I’m not a Messi fanboy, if I was then I wouldn’t write an article about how Ronaldo deserves the Ballon D’or, and to be completely honest, I don’t know why everyone interprets this article as an attack on Ronaldo as a flop… This article is an appraisal on their success this year and I think that Bale and Ancelotti have conformed with the standards that Ronaldo has set and that has ultimately lead to Real being an extremely successful team this past year. Furthermore, it’s a fact that Bale has performed in games where/when Ronaldo has not this year (his header in the final, and his performance in the Copa final (I know Ronaldo was injured) but still, plus the numerous other examples I’ve mentioned that have tipped Real over the edge, and that cannot really be argued with.

    I hear your points that Ronaldo’s presence on the field is insanely helpful to Real Madrid as a whole… AND I AGREE COMPLETELY, anyone would agree with that point! Although… aside from his goal against Dortmund in the CL that you mentioned, the other goals he’s scored HAVE been unneeded, and that’s a FACT, so in essence, in the CL this year, he has not been an incredibly large difference maker… Nowhere was that more proven than in the Copa final against Barcelona, when Real Madrid performed extremely well without him, almost not even needing him.

    Let me reiterate one more time, Ronaldo’s presence on the field is incredibly helpful to the rest of the team, but if the Copa final proved anything, it’s that the team is not all about him, and the miracles that he produces, but rather, it’s about the point of my post – that Ancelotti is the miracle worker and Bale picks up the slack when Ronaldo is unable to perform in the big matches whether it be due to being marked by 3 to 4 players as you claim, or due to the fact that he gets wrapped up by how large the spotlight shines on him.

    Would love your thoughts on my response, and thanks again for the long comment! Not much is better than talking footy. 🙂

  8. abellnada says:

    I must admit this author here has valid points couldn’t agree more…but ronaldo needed those goals to break a record that’s why it’s 17..Records are beautifull and rare. to be honest i think Real madrid won CL not Ronaldo ..he contributed together with everyone. it’s a team game. and he doesn’t need to be the hero or difference maker all he has to is to is give his best which he’s not a spotlight competition.

    • Hi Abellnada, thanks for the kind response!

      Really agree with your point, this year it has been about Real playing as a team rather than around Ronaldo, and that has contributed to their success. Ancelotti deserves a lot of credit for his both his management of the player personalities and the tactics that he employed this year – they have been so unconventional (Di Maria at attacking mid?! Who would have thought!) yet, they have worked so incredibly well!

      It was a really exciting year for them, and yes, records are rare and certainly keepsakes, no only for the players themselves, but for the fans that watch them achieve them – we’re extremely lucky to bear witness to an era of soccer with such stars as Messi and Ronaldo that constantly seem to challenge the threshold of what can be accomplished both individually, and as a team.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is evident from the number of criticism that the author has faced post posting this biased article that the author was off track. It is hard to believe that whoever have responded, didn’t follow matches or do not understand soccer. The response itself says a lot 🙂 anyways, I personally hope to get some better articles from this author.

  9. jerjer says:

    Yes man it’s sound like an attack because you’re discrediting Ronaldo in the success of the Real Madrid.In fact all those games are important not just Copa Final,CL Semi Finals Second Leg and the Finals. And flop sounds like bullshit really, very disrespectful to Ronaldo. In fact he still manage to perform even having injury because his squad need him most, more than any other.

    Bale no doubt he’s a performer, his a great player. If Ronaldo 100% fit and manage to play in Copa Final maybe the score sheet tally differently, against defenseless Barcelona, Real Madrid were just little bit lucky at that final. If i will choose Copa 2011 and Copa 2014. I undoubtedly choose against more complete 2011 Barcelona. That final so fulfilling at that moment.

    Bale sometimes fail to perform even in he’s 100% fit just like Ronaldo too. They are both human though.Bale didn’t score in 2nd leg vs Dortmund but I cannot consider him as a flop, because they made and effort.

    Sorry I cannot agree with you in the fact that they perform extremely well against Barcelona without Ronaldo. Even we got the win thanks to De Maria and Bale goals. But if they trash them like 3-1 or 4-1 maybe that’s so convincing.Madrid little bit lucky the fact that Barca has shaky defense at the moment.

    Real Madrid cannot perform well without Ronaldo, not just yet. They almost lost CL without Ronaldo. They trash by Dortmund in CL Second Leg and the fact that Dortmund also half fit team because all their key player got injury. I cannot understand your point and why you keep on discrediting Ronaldo.

    All goals count and very important in each game. Even you scores it at the first second or the last millisecond of the game. still that’s very important.

    And Ronaldo last goal was historical. That’s too much. I don’t know if Messi can surpass that, but we know he has the capability to do that. And I hope that Barcelona squad will fix soon before next season. If that gonna happen next season will be more competitive and exiting to watch.

  10. jerjer says:

    And man I will give more Credit to De Maria than to Bale on that 2nd goal. Because he’s the one who created it and Bale just did perfect finishing. 🙂

    • Hi Jerjer, thanks for the response! Your the first to have two comments on one thread and I really appreciate it!

      Like I said, this piece of writing is not one that trashes or attacks Ronaldo, it’s a piece that celebrates the fact that after five years, he finally has a coach (Ancelotti) and another player (Bale) who have helped push his extremely incredible contributions over the past 4 years to the next level. When he has failed to do it all, and cannot perform in big matches, he has needed someone to pick up the slack, and Bale is that player.

      Like you, I hope Barcelona gets there act together and fixes up their problems this summer. I think the hiring of Luis Enrique will ultimately be a good thing, although I doubt they’ll find any success if they continue to employ a possessional offense… Messi and Neymar need to be used in a quicker fast paced offense in order to succeed. Xavi and Iniesta seem to have lost some bounce to their step, and Barcelona need reinforcements in the back, as well as a younger, and more vivacious midfielder to support Messi and Neymar.

      Cheers mate! 🙂

  11. Anonymous says:

    The main motive of this article was to downplay Ronaldo’s superb season. I speculate that by crediting Bale and Team “Real” more, the author tried to establish a non-fact which so rightfully almost all readers have outrightly denied and confronted.Hopefully sense will prevail hereafter before trying to mis-state in a forum.

  12. marshall says:

    i can’t agree more with your comment @JERJER, especially the last one about Di Maria being just outstanding. Great article JYEFET, you have it spot on that Bale and Ancelotti was what RM/CR7 needed mate. CR7 were outstanding throughout the year, statistics says it all.
    However, i think too much is being made about Bale being the one who performs best at the important games. Don’t get me wrong because I agree that the goals he scored was both excellent and important. But, if one consider the CLEAR CHANCES at goal Bale had and MISSED, not a nice picture.
    It is thus for this reason that I feel that all the Real Madrid players deserve praise for their contribution and for just being outstanding this season. Besides Di Maria being the most improved I really can’t think of one player who did not make a step-up from their performances the previous season. – Hala Ancelotti for this reason. Bale can only get better under the guidance of Ancelotti and CR7777777777!!!

    footy greetings.

  13. Pingback: Why sell an Angel? | soccerdice

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