Real Madrid & CR7: a divorce that has seen both lose out

22 Apr 2019
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Real Madrid has proved to be a separation from which neither player nor club has benefited. While Los Blancos have lost their marksman-in-chief, the Portuguese has, at least compared to before, found himself feeding off scraps in the box at Juventus. The Champions League, a competition in which both have been dominant forces, has been the highest-profile example of Madrid and Cristiano’s unsuccessful parting of ways, but its impact has by no means been limited to Europe’s premier club tournament.

Real Madrid’s scoring rate has dived since Cristiano left

Madrid’s perecentage has fallen to 39.4% this season, from 50.8% in 2013/14, 45.8% in 2014/15, 51.1% in 2015/16, 49% in 2016/17 and 43.1% in 2017/18. Of a total of 137 clear-cut scoring chances, Los Merengues have failed to take 83, and have needed nine attempts for every goal they have managed. On an individual level, Gareth Bale’s disappointing campaign is underlined by his lowly personal percentage of 28.5% (six goals from 15 clear-cut chances).
It was always going to be difficult for anyone to replicate Cristiano’s figures, and Madrid have struggled to offset the effect of losing a player who averaged more than a goal a game in his nine seasons in Spain. Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, his clear-cut-chance conversion rate always remained somewhere between 47% and 55%(55.1% in 2013/14, 55.2% in 2014/15, 47.2% in 2015/16, 48.1% in 2016/17 and 47.7% in 2017/18).

If we focus in on the Champions League, the decline in Madrid’s team percentage is even more pronounced. Los Blancos scored 14 in the eight matches they played in the competition, taking just 28% of their 25 clear-cut chances (of which six went to Bale, with none finding the net). The contrast with the five years before Cristiano’s depature for Juventus is stark: 54.9% in 2013/14, 43.2% in 2014/15, 43.2% in 2015/16, 45.9% in 2016/17 and 42.6% in 2017/18.

Cristiano’s individual contribution to Madrid’s recent Champions League reign was huge; indeed, it is arguable that, without him, the 13-time European champions would still be nine-time European champions. He racked up 70 goals in his final five continental campaigns with Madrid, with an average clear-cut-chance conversation rate of 55.7% during that period. His highest came in 2013/14, when it rose to as much as 66.7%. Single-season percentages of 57.1%, 47.6%, 57.1% and 52% followed.

Cristiano has also suffered from Madrid departure…

Madrid have been negatively affected by Cristiano’s exit – and vice versa, too. The 34-year-old’s figures have suffered since he swapped Spain for Italy. In the 38 appearances he has made for Juve, he has managed 26 goals in all competitions – a tally that doesn’t look like getting close to his hauls at Madrid during their period of European dominance: 51 in 2013/14, 61 in 2014/15, 51 in 2015/16, 42 in 2016/17 and 44 in 2017/18.

His goalscoring drop-off is not because he’s been any less clinical, but because he has had half as many clear-cut chances per game at Juve (from 1.2 at Madrid to 0.6 in Turin). It’s a state of affairs that is particularly in evidence in the Champions League. The striker, who scored a total of six goals as the Vecchia Signora suffered a premature, quarter-final exit at the hands of Ajax, enjoyed just 20% of Juve’s clear-cut chances (registering an impressively high conversation rate of 80%).

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