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Real Madrid CF, Players: Cristiano Ronaldo Hands Out Grades

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 13:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF passes the ball during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RCD Mallorca at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 13, 2012 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 13: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF passes the ball during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RCD Mallorca at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 13, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Hello everyone. It's been somewhat of a strange time basking in the glow of Real Madrid's title while simultaneously facing the prospect of another long summer of transfer sagas and speculation. At least this year we are lucky to have the Euro 2012 tournament to look forward to and I'm extremely excited for that, as many people felt Euro 2008 was a better, more exciting competition than the World Cup in 2010.

In the process of combing through world football news this morning, I came across some interesting quotes from Cristiano Ronaldo that I'd like to share with you all after the jump.

Cristiano assessed Real Madrid's season in his characteristically brash manner:

I would give my season a 10 on an individual level and collectively a nine, because we wanted to win more titles, the Champions League for example.

The headline of that Telegraph, India article actually reads "I am a perfect 10" and will no doubt earn CR7 at least a moderate level of stick throughout the stadiums of the world while providing fuel for those who view him as egotistical, selfish etc. But, if we're all being honest, it's extremely hard to argue with his self-appraisal. Forty-six goals in 38 league matches, 62 overall--what more could he have achieved on an individual level. I wouldn't dare fault him for his missed penalty in the shootout against Bayern, even though that loss still haunts me. I only mention it now because it's the one incident I can recall all year that could even remotely be considered a blemish. Cristiano was crucial to Real Madrid's la Liga crown in absolutely every respect and I think he also demonstrated a level of growth and maturity as a teammate, which can only bode well as this team goes into next season as champions.

Ronaldo went on to speak of the burning, omnipresent desire madridistas have for that elusive 10th European title:

We’ve been close this year, but we need to stay calm. The 10th will arrive in the next season or two. We know that everyone is focused on winning the Champions League. You notice it in the street, but we need to stay calm.

I love the confident, assured tone of this statement. It tells me that this team's unwavering belief in itself and unquenchable thirst for silverware will not allow complacency to gain even a tiny foothold in the dressing room and that this la Liga title is only the first step in an ambitious, dynastic march forward.

Jose Mourinho touched on something similar in his remarks to the press after it was revealed that he signed a contract extension that will keep him at the Bernabeu until 2016. Mourinho spoke of the youth in this los blancos side that will allow them to contend into the forseeable future:

I've always said this squad is young and that its best years are yet to come. It isn't a squad with players on the verge of extinction or playing their final years of top-tier football.

Mourinho characterized the next four years as the "perfect challenge," saying:

You always have to do more when things are hardest. I need these great challenges in the maturity of my career.

I think this statement refers to the degree of difficulty tied to the fact that expectations are now (if this is possible for a club with Madrid's pedigree and standards) even higher than before. And, perhaps, actually having the tools and resources at your disposal to consistently meet those lofty expectations is even more daunting for a manager because it removes all margin for error. Mourinho glimpses the potential this team has to dominate the next few years in Spain and beyond and he recognizes that there are zero excuses for them not to. It sounds ideal (and is in many ways), but actualizing it will indeed constitute the perfect challenge.

What do you think, madridistas?

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