Cristiano Ronaldo ended a 585-day drought with his first free-kick for Juventus

  • Kobe Tong

Cristiano Ronaldo has always had a reputation for brilliance from free-kicks.

You could probably make a feature-length documentary of some of his finest strikes, even if we’re unsure the Portuguese will ever top his strike against Portsmouth.

Ronaldo has patented the famous ‘knuckleball’ free-kick, opting to create unique ball movement to fool the goalkeeper as opposed to using the more conventional curved technique.

Nevertheless, it proved a deadly weapon all throughout his Manchester United spell and in his early Real Madrid days, even scoring two set pieces in one game against Stoke City and FC Zurich.

For whatever reason, though, Ronaldo seems to have lost his touch in recent years and those magical ‘knuckleball’ goals are proving fewer and far between.

Ronaldo scores vs Inter Milan

Sure, there’s still the odd, spectacular strikers that creep in and his hat-trick goal against Spain is probably the finest example.

But Ronaldo has actually been on something of an unprecedented drought when it comes to club football and it’s one that he only recently ended in pre-season with Juventus.

After Inter had taken the lead through a Matthijs de Ligt own goal, the 34-year-old levelled the scores by beating Samir Handanovic from a deflected free-kick.

585-day free-kick drought

Astonishingly, that was his first free-kick goal for Juventus and his first for any club since the 2017 Club World Cup final, where he scored during Real Madrid’s win over Gremio.

That means that an eye-watering 585 days had passed without Ronaldo scoring from outside the box with a dead-ball for either Real or his current employers.

The only two free-kicks that Ronaldo had scored in the mean time came at the World Cup and during his UEFA Nations League hat-trick against Switzerland.

But just how bad is going almost 600 days without a free-kick goal? Pretty dire when you compare it to his eternal rival Lionel Messi, who has been on a roll from set pieces.

Since Ronaldo found the net against Gremio in December 2017, the Barcelona super star has scored an astonishing 14 free-kicks in less than two seasons. 

So, while Ronaldo has recently averaged a club free-kick every 585 days, Messi has been producing one almost every month with an approximate rate of 47 days.

There can be no denying that both players are phenomenal from set pieces, but Ronaldo has certainly lost his touch and needs to hope his Inter Milan goal sparks a turnaround.

Who do you think is the better free-kick taker – Ronaldo or Messi? Have your say in the comments section below.

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