Cristiano Ronaldo features in new study analysing how footballers cope with pressure


Cristiano Ronaldo has been no stranger to pressure throughout his career.

When football fans speculate over who they'd back to score a last minute penalty for their club, Ronaldo is always in the conversation and he's delivered so many crucial moments over the years.

Sure, there are exceptions to rule - take his penalty miss in Moscow, for example - but few world-class players have been able to keep their composure when it really matters quite like Ronaldo.

Take his last-gasp penalty against Juventus in the last season's Champions League final or the fact he's scored 19 times in major finals.

It's also an area where Ronaldo seems to hold an advantage over Lionel Messi in their eternal debate, although the Barcelona star has also shown his brilliance in adversity over his career.

Study on pressure in football

But regardless of comparisons, being able to perform under pressure is a huge part of becoming a top player and creating moments that will be remembered by fans for years to come.

So, perhaps it isn't surprising that a study has been carried out on how different players perform when the heat is on.

In this particular instance, the university KU Leuven and sports analytic company SciSports have delivered the investigation.


Ronaldo is 'immune' to pressure

Per AS, the study was to looking to assess: "how much stress is a factor in key moments in football games and how it affects some of the top players in the game."

They analysed the conditions surrounding games of interest, how the game played out, the amount of pressure applied before the match and a number of other factors.

Very interesting and perhaps the most notable conclusion was their assessment of Ronaldo.

They established that the 34-year-old is actually 'immune' to pressure at the top level and 'his performance levels remain the same in every scenario possible during a match.'

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Neymar, who was deemed to feel the affects of performing in the biggest moments.

SciSports analyst Jan van Haaren explained: “He makes poorer decisions under pressure."

They claimed that Sergio Aguero is another player who thrives under pressure, maintaining immaculate decision-making and also having the composure to execute.

Meanwhile, Eden Hazard carries out his intended actions during the biggest games but his decision-making is actually deemed to decline, while it's the other way around for Ousmane Dembele. 


Lotte Bransen of SciSports managed to find a number of interesting trends within the research and one reflects well on Jurgen Klopp's transfer policy.

“If a club is willing to pay millions for a new player, it’s important to know if he is immune to stress," they explained.

"For example, our analysis shows that Liverpool have been ingenious in their transfer policy. They look for players who perform better under high levels of stress. We can’t say for certain if it a deliberate policy or not, but it is noticeable."

Who do you think is football's best pressure-performer? Have your say in the comments section below.

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