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Why Cristiano Ronaldo’s Goalless Start To La Liga Shouldn’t Be A Cause For Concern

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Ronaldo is playing well, even if the goals aren’t flowing.

Real Madrid v Espanyol - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

It seems like Ronaldo is beginning to make a bit of a habit of starting La Liga slowly. In 2015/16, Cristiano scored only once (a quintuple vs. Espanyol) in his opening seven matches, and in 16/17, Ronaldo missed his first couple of games due to injury and only managed to net twice in his first six fixtures. This season, Ronaldo got himself suspended, before failing to register a single goal in his initial three league games.

Previously, CR7’s lack of goals has been a cause of concern. In the beginning of both the last two seasons, Ronaldo’s lack of end-product made him somewhat superfluous to the team’s set-tup. If he wasn’t scoring, he wasn’t providing much else, aside from his general occupation of defenders which helped open space up for other attackers. Of course, Benitez/Zidane’s patience with Ronaldo proved to be fruitful, as he later kicked into high gear and tore Europe apart with a brilliant campaign in the 2nd half of the two seasons. But before that happened, there was always a question mark as to when Ronaldo would kick back into form and whether it might be fruitful to bench him for a small amount of time.

This season, fans shouldn’t worry about Cristiano’s zero goals to open the campaign, because unlike the start of 15/16 and 16/17, Ronaldo has actually been playing quite well. The Real Betis match was a bit of a dud, with the Portuguese hitman blowing 12 shots and failing to do much else, but his match vs. Alavés signaled a return to imperious form. His dribbling throughout the match was superb, as he constantly looked to fake his way into space and create shots for himself, and his roaming movement in-between the lines and willingness to instigate combinations gave Madrid much needed incisiveness. He even hit the woodwork twice. Against Espanyol, Ronaldo was even better.

He created a stunning six key passes, completed three crosses, managed 2/3 dribbles, provided a through ball assist for Isco, and notched a pre-assist on the second goal [source]. His off-the-ball movement was similarly strong, as he constantly acted as an option to break down the opposition’s defensive block and made runs in behind that never received service.

There’s also the fact that Real’s decision-making has been decidedly poor in La Liga so far. Both Isco and Asensio have been culprits of going for goal when they should’ve passed to an open attacker, which has hurt Ronaldo more than anyone else.

But as annoying as that is, it is actually a cause for encouragement (along with his top form and the fact that he netted twice vs. Dortmund mid-week). It means that Ronaldo is doing the right things and luck simply isn’t falling his way at the moment. Sure, his finishing is partly to blame (his expected goals for La Liga is 1.92), but that is unlikely to last as well (if past trends tell us anything), meaning that it’s only a matter of time before Ronaldo starts to reflect his current brilliance on the scoresheet.