CRISTIANO RONALDO has come under fire for his poor free-kick record in Italy – but has he scored more deadballs the long-time rival Lionel Messi?Ronado is yet to score a free-kick in Juventus colours from 13 attempts, and hasn’t scored one in club football since the Club-World Cup final in 2017.And stats now show he is actually the WORST free-kick taker in Serie A – leading to calls for him to hand the ball to someone else when a free kick is given.Ronaldo did score a crucial equaliser for Portugal against Spain in the 3-3 draw, when he scored a hat-trick, at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.Messi has scored 38 direct free-kicks for Barcelona, his first coming in a 6-1 win over Atletico Madrid in 2008.
During the past two seasons, the 31-year-old has scored 11 in total – including two against Espanyol in December.Ronaldo has been far less prolific in recent seasons, with just one since that Club World Cup final goal against Gremio in December 2017.In total, Ronaldo has scored 44 free-kick goals in club football, his first coming for Manchester United against Fulham in 2006.But he seems to have lost his touch over the years, while Messi is still as reliable as ever.Former Argentina assistant boss Fernando Signorini recently revealed to La Nacion that Diego Maradona took a keen interest in Messi’s free-kick technique.Signorini said: ”I saw Diego coming, he took him by the shoulder and said: ‘Little Leo, little Leo, come here, man. Let’s try it again’.“It was like a teacher with his pupil.”‘Put the ball here and listen to me: don’t take your foot away from the ball so fast because otherwise it won’t know what you want’.
“He then stroked the ball with his left foot straight into the angle of the net, with Messi’s face full of admiration.”Messi has scored six goals for Argentina while Ronaldo has eight for Portugal meaning although Messi’s ratio from a dead ball is higher, he still remains behind his 34-year-old rival in the overall tally.Before Ronaldo arrived in Italy, Miralem Pjanic was the main free-kick taker at Juventus.
The Bosnia-Herzegovina international had scored 11 in his previous three seasons before Ronaldo’s arrival, but he admitted that the new signing was right to receive the role.”Cristiano is here now, someone who in the past few years has shown he is best in the world,” Pjanic told Di Marzio.”At first when we trained on free kicks it would either be me or Paulo Dybala to take it. Now, it’s 100% him. He is a tremendous free kick taker.”Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri revealed recently that Ronaldo is not guaranteed to be taking every direct free-kick this season, and cited Pjanic and Dybala as the reasons why.
“Ronaldo is a smart guy, he knows Pjanic and Dybala are excellent free-kick takers and they are going to take those close to the area,” Allegri told Calciomercato.”When there are free kicks from far away, Ronaldo can kick them but we’ve decided that Dybala and Pjanic will take the set pieces close to the area.”