2016 has been kind on Ronaldo, who has found the net 52 times and assisted 17 times in 56 appearances. Only one player can emulate such numbers, and that is the Argentine maestro Lionel Messi who has scored 58 times and assisted 32 times in 61 appearances for both club and country.
It is the goals scored in crucial fixtures that have helped Cristiano pip his arch rival. It is staggering to see a 31-year-old replicate such numbers even losing the speed and dribbling ability a fair bit in recent years.
Contribution in crucial fixtures
Cristiano Ronaldo is a man that both Real Madrid and Manchester United previously had looked up to whenever they were on the brink of defeat. 2016 was no different as Ronaldo scored a vital hat-trick against VFL Wolfsburg who looked on course to book a place in the semifinals.
The same happened in Euro 2016 twice where Portugal needed to draw desperately after their poor show in first two games. In a do or die match Cristiano assisted Nani’s first and then with a sublime back flick scored the second himself. Portugal was chasing the game, and Ronaldo headed home only to be pegged back with another Hungarian goal. It was enough for them to qualify. Next came the big semifinal clash against Wales where Ronaldo leapt high above defenders and rocketed a header past the Wales goalie and teed up Nani for the second goal.
He had an ordinary game in the final of Champions League but stepped up and found the net when the team needed the most. After Juanfran’s shot had hit the post, Ronaldo had the chance to clinch the bragging rights and by sending Oblak the wrong way he did that with perfection.
An evolved team player
Many might disagree, but the truth is with age and a loss in speed and agility Cristiano has looked a better team player than he was when he first joined Real Madrid. His assists record did show a dip when he moved from Old Trafford to Santiago Bernabeu, but people need to think of one thing that Cris was a typical winger under Fergie, and after joining Madrid, he has evolved a lot.
He does not look to run down the length of the pitch or dribble outside but cut inside and shoot. However, this year has shown marked change as he has poked in the occasional through ball or crossed with venom whenever he has had the chance.
Trophies and collective ones
Cristiano Ronaldo had finally caught hold of the elusive major trophy in his International career. Euro 2016 was a vehement ride for Ronaldo and company, but they have ridden the roller coaster ever so well.
Cristiano Ronaldo has also achieved the summit of European club football, UCL this year. With 16 goals to his name and the Champions League winning the penalty, he wrote history as Real Madrid won their 11th European title.
Lionel Messi might emulate Ronaldo as a player, but when it comes to leadership and premiership, the former can never pip the latter.
Euro 2016 final displayed why Ronaldo is seen as a natural captain. After receiving a knock, Ronaldo was left in anguish and tried to bandage his way through but could not stay on his feet due to the pain. He left the pitch in tears, and almost all of Portugal fans knew that this might be the end.
It was not as Cristiano floundered in pain walked back and sat with the team and motivated each of the playing eleven and the subs. The last 30 minutes brought the best out of leader Ronaldo who was seen yelling and screeching on the touchline and urging his players to give their all.
Cameras caught him giving Eder a brief pep talk, and it did wonders. Footages were released post-victory which showed how dominant a person Cristiano is.