MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid at Estadio Teresa Rivero on February 26, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Q: What do the following la Liga sides have in common?
A: All have currently scored fewer goals than Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, who leads the Primera with 30.
Ronaldo's numbers are absolutely astonishing. Maybe we take for granted just how incredibly prolific CR7 has been since his arrival in 2009. He often makes scoring goals seem so automatic and effortless. Ronaldo's 30 la Liga strikes constitute 35% of Real Madrid's monumental 85 goal output through the first 26 weeks of the season.
According to the excellent Who Scored.com, Real Madrid are la Liga's top team statistically. No big surprise there, as they sit comfortably on top of the table, winning ten straight league matches with relative ease. But upon closer examination the numbers reveal some intriguing things, particularly as they illuminate the strength of Madrid's form away from the Bernabeu. Los blancos average a 60.8% rate of possession and 16.5 shots per match on the road. They also average a brutally efficient 83.5% pass completion rate on their travels. Those are eyeopening numbers, made even more impressive in light of the fact that teams win their home matches over 60% of the time in la Liga. It's hard to win consistently on the road, but the numbers indicate that this Real Madrid side does so with flair and determination.
As an interesting sidebar ahead of this weekend's match--Betis are actually la Liga's overall leader in positional attack zone statistics, attacking down the left side of the pitch 41% of the time. The Andalusian side also attack down the right flank 31% of time and their width is certainly something to be wary of this Saturday.
Betis may be the overall leaders in attack zone stats, but Real Madrid once again top that category in away matches this season. Madrid attack down the left side of the pitch an identical 41% of the time. These numbers help explain Ronaldo's torrid goal scoring pace, but, in my view, they also underline Marcelo's importance to the side. To put this in perspective, Madrid rank seventh in this same set of statistics in home matches.
Solid away form is essential for any title-winning side and these numbers give you a sense of just how dominant Real Madrid have been this season away from the Bernabeu.
Do you think los blancos can maintain this extraordinary form with tough away fixtures at Betis, Villarreal and Osasuna over the next month?