There are many out there who want you to believe that Cristiano Ronaldo is having a poor season.
But 26 goals for Real Madrid in all competitions would suggest that’s not the case.
The Portuguese forward has scored 10 goals in his past six appearances, averaging an 8.76 rating over those matches from football analytics’s website WhoScored.
On the decline? Ronaldo has something to say about that.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner proved too much for Paris Saint-Germain in last week’s Champions League encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu.
He scored a brace and, in doing so, became the first player in Champions League history to score 100 goals for the same club.
Ronaldo’s goals weren’t anything to shout home about - one was a penalty, the other a tap-in - but it was further evidence of just how tough if it to keep him off the scoresheet.
How do you stop a player who hasn’t scored fewer than 42 goals in a season since 2010? Four years ago, Gary Neville gave an answer.
Gary Neville: How to stop Cristiano Ronaldo
The Manchester United legend spent six years with Ronaldo at Old Trafford, so if there’s anyone who knows Ronaldo’s game, it’s Neville.
“Having played and trained with Cristiano (Ronaldo) for six years at Manchester United, and directly faced him in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, if you’re a capable defender, there are moments in the 90 minutes when you certainly can stop him,” Neville said, per the Mail.
“You’ve obviously just got to ensure you’re focused.
“I always found the key to stopping him was making sure that he didn’t get the ball one-on-one against you.
"It’s vital to stop the ball getting to his feet in a good position, you’d have to try and step in front of him, try and make sure you put pressure on him very quickly so he didn’t get his speed up.
“Once he gets his speed up, and you’re back pedalling into your box, you’re really in trouble because the key thing about these types of players is they can go either way, they can go down your right or left side, they can beat you both ways.
“It’s impossible to stop these players facing you one-on-one in 90 minutes of football, you definitely need the support of your team mates.
“World-class players will sniff out a weakness in a defence, for instance, if they’re not getting much joy out of a certain player, they’ll drift to another part of the pitch to try and get success.
“So, if you’re a right back, you need your right-sided midfielder, your right-sided central midfielder, and your right-sided central defender to make sure that when the ball goes over, you’ve got two or three players supporting.”
Of course, Ronaldo’s style has changed in recent years. He’s no longer as quick as he once was.
But Neville’s message remains essential to this day: don’t give Ronaldo space, and definitely don’t lose focus.
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