Ronaldo riding high

Despite Ronaldo's unquestionable talent there remains a sense that his talent has gone unfulfilled on the game's biggest stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo has never been short on confidence. After all this is the man who marked his debut for Manchester United with a series of tricks and step-overs, bewildering defenders seemingly at will.

Ronaldo has come a long way since then. He is a more mature performer now and his showboating tricks are more in tune with the needs of his team and manager than they ever were during those raw early days in the English Premier League following his move from Sporting Lisbon.

And you know that he must be in a particularly rich vein of form when he says after his most recent scoring spree: “The goals have given me confidence, when you score and you play well the confidence grows. I'm feeling better all the time.”

New Real boss Jose Mourinho has a reputation for being a manager who demands discipline from his team. His Chelsea sides rarely won any plaudits for being pleasing on the eye and on the surface it would appear that he and Ronaldo are not an ideal fit. But any concerns over the relationship between the two Portuguese appear unfounded, with Real sitting at the top of the Primera Division table with the only unbeaten record in the league after claiming six wins and two draws from their first eight games.

There was a feeling that Madrid relied a little too heavily on Ronaldo last term, and Mourinho made it clear that he wanted others to step up and share the burden to allow the star forward more freedom to express himself. “I will not allow all the responsibilities of the team to fall on Ronaldo,” he said. “In my teams, when we win, we all win, and when we lose, I lose — so Ronaldo can relax.”

The summer acquisitions of Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria have all helped. Ronaldo has relished linking up with Ozil and Di Maria in attack and Madrid have hit six on two occasions in recent matches, with Ronaldo helping himself to a four-goal haul for the first time in his career against Racing Santander.

Despite Ronaldo's unquestionable talent there remains a sense that his talent has gone unfulfilled on the game's biggest stage. He has yet to produce his best football at a major championship and he was disappointing during Portugal's second-round exit from the global showpiece in South Africa last summer.

The footballing world will have to wait at least another two years before the next major tournament, and four for the next World Cup. But there is no guarantee he will still be at the Bernabeu when the football festival rolls round in Brazil in 2014, after saying he believed that players “play for clubs in cycles.”

Wherever he may be he will surely be worth watching as he looks to secure his status deserved as one of the game's brightest ever talents.

© PA Sport, 2010, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.