One thing that I cannot stand in football – even more than the FA, even more than the prices of food at games and even more than Sergio Busquets (well perhaps not) – is the claim that certain players fail to perform in the ‘big games.’
Never more so than after El Clasico, I got slowly more and more annoyed with this criticism of Ronaldo, and even after the boy managed to score a hat trick away to Sevilla at the weekend to send Real top going into the winter break, people still managed to say yes, but the Barcelona game was last week Cristiano. Cue me turning a shade of purple Fergie would be proud of.
Ok, so Ronaldo may not have had the best game against Barca, but say he did and scored five goals, all by himself and made a goal line clearance at the other end after a very un Ronaldo like piece of defending, single handedly winning Real the game. Brilliant. But then failed to perform against Sevilla the week after and Mourinho’s men lost the game – they would still have lost three points and been in the same situation they are in now.
Ronaldo has scored 43 goals this calendar year, setting a new record in La Liga, and is leading the race for the Picihci with 20 goals. Well these goals came in games such as ones against Valencia and Sevilla – both away – so are these not ‘big games’?
The points that Barcelona have dropped this season come away to Getafe amongst other sides – so despite their players turning up in the Classico, they failed to do so for the majority of the away games where Barca picked up 9 points out of 18 before the game at their apparent home away from home, the Santiago Bernabeu.
No game is insignificant in a title race – there are 38 games which are all worth three points, not that you would believe that given the media reaction to certain performances and games. There is little point in turning up to one ‘big’ game and failing in the other 37. Likewise you might be brilliant in the World Cup final, but there is a little matter of getting there first.
Don’t get me wrong, turning up in the big games is vital, but like when people accuse strikers of scoring against easy sides – Defoe comes to mind here – someone has to score those goals, and yes you can score against the top few sides and possibly win a game, but if you fail to beat the rest of the league, you won’t find yourself top of the pile at the end of the season.
There is a saying that there is no such thing as an easy game, and with football becoming more unpredictable than ever before. For a top team the target is to win the league, not just to beat their rivals, and to do that players need to be on the top of their game for 38 matches.
At the end of the season no one will focus on the fact that Ronaldo had an off game against Barcelona if he is the top goal scorer and Madrid win the league. No one will care that Defoe may have scored against everyone but the top two sides if Spurs finish third.
One ‘big’ game does not make a great player or win a title – yet in the same way that fans and the media sensationalise one poor result – would have you believe this is the case. Unfortunately it will take until the end of the season to prove them wrong – but when that happens you can be sure I will be writing about it!
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