It’s been a hell of a year for Cristiano Ronaldo and the Real Madrid star has undoubtedly been of many footballing heroes in 2016.
The Portuguese captain won the Champions League and European Championships and then capped it off with the Ballon d’Or. Still, that’s not really anything out of the ordinary for a player as highly decorated as Ronaldo. As well as ranking third in the El Clasico table, the forward has scored more goals than games he’s appeared in, a record that few can match, and this year he managed to bag his 40th career hat-trick. At 31, he is showing no signs of aging, and with his current form, and Real Madrid three points clear with a game in hand, yet to lose this season, it’s looking highly likely that he may have an equally as impressive 2017 by taking the La Liga title.
Still, with 23 games left to play, the season is far from over and Real can’t afford to slip up to complacency. Bookies put Real’s chances firmly at 1/2 currently for the outright win with 10Bet and ComeOn offering up to £200 welcome bonus promotions over the Christmas period. Last season, as we all know, a Luis Suarez hat-trick fired Barcelona to their 24th title. At one point, Suarez and his teammates were nine points clear of second placed Atletico Madrid and ten points clear of Real and it looked like they were going to run away with the title, however, just over three weeks later, that gap was reduced to zero and Barcelona led only goal difference, with Real just one point behind. And whilst Barcelona did ultimately go on to win the title, it was not the absolute run away that was originally anticipated.
Real will take note of Barca’s near slip up and use it to ensure they don’t make the mistake. There are still many places where Real can slip up, they must face Barcelona in round 2 El Classico. Zinedine Zidane’s men came drastically close losing their unbeaten streak as they faced Barcelona at the Nou Camp earlier this month. The hosts led through Luis Surez less than ten minutes into the second-half and it looked like they were going to take all three points until Sergio Ramos rescued it in stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw. Of course, that can be looked in both ways, it may be a clear indication that Real will slip up at some point this season or it may show that they have the resilience to continue their unbeaten run for some time.
With Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi joint top scorers this season with 12 goals each, there is no denying that Barcelona are more than capable of snatching the title from Real’s clutches. But if there’s one man to stop that, it’s undoubtedly Ronaldo. Despite missing the start of the season due to injury, the Ballon d’Or winner has ten goals to his name, with a further two assists this term. With his incredulous record, anything is possible, and alongside teammate Gareth Bale who is also in great form, Real certainly have a good chance of pipping Barca to La Liga.