Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest player in the history of international football. It seems inevitable now that the Portugal superstar will usurp Ali Daei as the most prolific goalscorer in the format as he pushes closer and closer towards the magical tally of 109 strikes.
And given that Ronaldo only needs one more goal to become the Euros’ record marksmen, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Juventus poacher make even more history before the year is out.
Ronaldo’s free-kick devolution
So, it’s fair to say that Ronaldo plays rather well when he’s wearing the famous red jersey of his nation, but even one of the greatest footballers in history isn’t without faults.
And one of the strangest career journeys that Ronaldo has embarked upon in recent years has been the worrying decline of his free-kick taking.
During his Manchester United days and first few seasons at Real Madrid, goalkeepers would quake in their boots whenever ‘CR7’ lined up a set-piece from 30 yards out.
Struggling to rekindle the magic
However, for whatever reason, the days of Ronaldo lashing home free-kicks like penalties are over with his knuckle-ball specials becoming more of a collector’s item than common occurrence.
In fact, Ronaldo has only scored a single free-kick in club football since he found the net for Los Blancos in the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup final – and it remains his only goal of the likes for Juve.
His record for Portugal in that time has been marginally better – punishing Spain, Switzerland and Sweden – but this week brought yet another reminder of Ronaldo’s fading free-kick finesse.
Awful free-kick vs Israel
During Selecao’s final warm-up game for Euro 2020 against Israel, Ronaldo reminded the world of his lethal finishing from open play with a considered finish for Portugal’s second on the night.
However, the same couldn’t be said of free-kick taking with a viral clip circulating of Ronaldo sending a first-half effort into the stratosphere – and you can check out the bungled attempt down below:
Oh, Cristiano, what happened to your free-kick pomp?
Never write off Ronaldo
Now, it goes without saying that it was still a bountiful evening for the footballing legend, advancing to 104 international goals and within just five strikes of Daei’s world record.
But after such an abysmal free-kick effort on the eve of Euro 2020, you have to wonder whether Ronaldo should really be Portugal’s number one free-kick taker.
Free-kicks don’t exactly decide international tournament, granted, but you have to imagine that Fernando Santos’ men would stand a better chance with Bruno Fernandes taking over duties.
Then again, you only have to look at Ronaldo’s iconic conversion against Spain at the 2018 World Cup to see that the 36-year-old has a capacity to produce the goods when it matters most.
So, trust me when we say that we’d love to be proven wrong because despite all the negative evidence in recent years, we’d enjoy nothing more than seeing a classic Ronaldo knuckle ball at Euro 2020. Fingers crossed.