The average winger in La Liga takes an average of 2.5 shots per game – Cristiano Ronaldo goes for goal an average of 6.7 times. But then Ronaldo is anything but average.
The Portuguese superstar is in the running for his second Ballon d’Or in a row, his third in total after winning football’s most prestigious individual prize in 2008. In his way stand Germany’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and arch rival Lionel Messi, but after an amazing year in which he netted 61 goals for his club and picked up a Champions League medal, it is no surprise Ronaldo is the bookies favourite.
After a stellar season for former club Manchester United, in which he scored 42 goals, it seemed Ronaldo had pushed the limits for a goalscoring winger as far as they would go. But since moving to Madrid Ronaldo has polished his shooting boots even more – the 29-year-old accounts for an average of 39.4% of his team’s shots each match, given the licence to drift inside and play with freedom across the Madrid frontline. An average goals-per-shot percentage of 19.5% per game, means that one in five times Ronaldo goes for goal, he find the back of the net.
Ronaldo made his name as a flashy, sometimes over-elaborate dribbler down the flanks at Old Trafford. He still displays a very effective ability with the ball at his feet. His average of dribbles classed as ‘good’ stands at 50.7% each game, more than 10% more than the league average of 39.2%.
While it is rare for the winner of the Ballon d’Or to have a defensive role, ex Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro is the most recent defender to take the prize, in 2006. But Ronaldo’s efforts are almost exclusively focused on attack – he accounts for just 1.6% of his team’s defensive actions compared to the league average of 6.4% for his position.
Ronaldo’s activity as a goal scorer does seem to have detracted from his ability to perform the more standard roles associated with a winger. He is responsible for an average of just 12.8% of his team’s crosses per game – the average winger puts in 23.8% of his team’s crosses.
Ronaldo, or ‘CR7′ as his global brand is known, has carved out a unique role at the fulcrum of the European champions’ attack, and there will certainly be few complaints if he comes one closer to Messi’s total by scooping the coveted award, which will be handed out in Zurich on 12th January.