Football

Mesut Özil's departure will show Ronaldo can't do it alone

Özil and Ronaldo were one of Europe's greatest goalscoring partnerships (©GettyImages)
Özil and Ronaldo were one of Europe's greatest goalscoring partnerships (©GettyImages).

When Mesut Özil was sold to Arsenal for £42.5m this summer, Cristiano Ronaldo was quoted as being "angry" about the decision, calling it "very bad news for me".

Ronaldo knows better than anyone that Özil was an assist machine for Madrid, and developed a special relationship with the Portuguese at his time in the Spanish capital. Ronaldo also knows that without Özil's guile, presence of mind and eye for a pass, he could struggle to hit his previous goalscoring heights.

After an eye-catching World Cup with Germany, a 21-year old Mesut Özil signed for Real Madrid in the summer of 2010. The Gelsenkerchen-born midfielder came with high expectations after performing excellently for Werder Bremen and Germany - most notably in the national side's 4-1 hammering of England in South Africa. At the time, Cristiano Ronaldo had just completed his first season after the world-record £80m transfer from Manchester United, scoring 26 goals in 29 La Liga games. Real finished the season trophyless.

Özil settled quickly in Madrid, finishing his first season with 25 assists - the most of any player in any major European competition. Cristiano Ronaldo finished Özil's first season with 40 league goals - a whopping 17 coming from the German.

In the next three seasons, the understanding between the two players grew - Ronaldo scored 50, 66 and 51 goals alongside Özil, with more assists from the German than from anyone else. Before leaving for north London, the Turkish international had assisted 27 goals for Ronaldo at Madrid - more than any other player.

From watching the pair in action, it's easy to see why they compliment each other so well - Özil's ability to commit defenders, hold up the ball and find a pass, coupled with Ronaldo's direct running, has been a key factor in this successful partnership; but that's not where the relationship ends.

It may be surprising to see how many goals the two combine for at set-pieces. Ronaldo has scored plenty of headed goals from corners and free-kicks, which is down in no small part to Mesut Özil's excellent delivery from dead-ball situations.

Ronaldo and Özil's partnership has been a testament to Ronaldo's all-round abilities as much as to the German's quickness of thought and world-class technique. 

Without Özil to back him up, Ronaldo will be hoping that the new Galactico Gareth Bale and up-and-coming playmaker Isco can help him keep his record as stellar as in previous seasons. 

Theo Walcott's speed and directness and Olivier Giroud's aerial prowess at Arsenal provide the building blocks for a similarly successful spell for Özil.

For Ronaldo however, the prospect of starting a campaign without his main creative foil will be a daunting one indeed.

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Topics:
Real Madrid
Football
Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo

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