Some are free at the barrier, others at the hands of the goalkeeper and others without threatening the opposing goal. Cristiano Ronaldo has been in a bad moment when it comes to direct free kicks in recent months and in his “portfolio” in the national team and at Juventus, the Portuguese player has not justified the “monopoly” of the free kicks.
Since the start of the 2018/19 season, Ronaldo has only scored three direct free goals. A modest number, especially considering he’s a player who has tried dozens of free kicks during that time – over 70.
Is it a good idea to pass almost all free kicks directly to the captain? Perhaps not from a purely statistical point of view. There are two players in the national team with the best record in the last two years: Bruno Fernandes with eight goals from direct free kicks and Sérgio Oliveira with five.
Performance among others
However, absolute registration can be misleading – the more a player tries, the greater the chance of success. It is therefore important to analyze the effectiveness.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 1.51% of goals in Juventus games since 2018/19 – one goal in 66 attempted free kicks (he scored two more for the national team, which will improve significantly) the average, but there is no reliable record about experiments).
There is no one with such a modest record among the national team’s possible free-kicks. Using the combination of data provided by Opta to the PUBLIC, Bruno Fernandes has achieved an improvement of 9.6% since 2018 (Sporting and Man. United) (five goals in 52 attempts – three of them in cup games, but without test records ). Rúben Neves is 10.5% (two goals in 19 attempts).
Then there are two special cases. Sérgio Oliveira, who played out the incomplete “Big 5” data. So the barometer is just the amount that Opta sent for championship games. This means that the FC Porto player had an efficiency of 11.8% (two goals) in 17 attempts. although the Porto player even adds three more, in the Champions League and in the Greek League).
Finally, Cédric has also scored an Arsenal goal since 2018, but the number of attempts is not a sufficient sample for a reliable analysis.
There is also a curious case in the selection. Raphaël Guerreiro has the advantage of being a south paw who can hit freely when the ball is near the area and falls on its right side. And Guerreiro actually had his moment of fame. In 2016, he had the honor of scoring a free kick and scoring a goal in a friendly against Norway. In this game … there was no Ronaldo.
“Ronaldo scores in training”
According to data from Transfermarkt, Ronaldo has only scored one goal in 66 attempts in three seasons with Juventus (in Italy there are data that speak of more than 70). The only goal scored with a direct free kick – after Turin in July 2020 – came after more than 40 attempted kicks.
Why does a low-scoring player have the honor of being the main free kick? Aside from the status and memory of the big goals, most of all there will be the effectiveness of the training – which, if the logic prevails, will be great.
Since the sessions are closed to the public and to journalists, it is impossible to assess the use of Madeira in interior doors, but in Italy the Italian newspaper Tuttosport wanted to address this prism.
Carlo Pinsoglio, Juve’s third goalkeeper, assured the Italian newspaper that Ronaldo is training effectively. “He always scores freely in training and scores all the time. I don’t know why it doesn’t score in games, maybe because of bad luck, ”he added.
Ronaldo’s arrival at Juventus changed the hierarchy of the northern Italian club, although the numbers suggest more caution in making this decision. According to Paulo Dybala to Gazzetta dello Sport, the Argentine spoke to Bosnian Miralem Pjanic – until then they were Juventus’ free kickers – when Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in Italy.
“Pjanic and I had a pact: on the left he struck, on the right I struck. I wrote to Pjanic and said, “I’m sorry but I don’t think you will be free this season,” he told the Italian newspaper.
Dybala’s joke wasn’t far from the truth. In fact, Ronaldo became the number one direct free kick at Juventus – in how often he scored, but not necessarily in effectiveness.
A study carried out in 2019 by Soccerment, a portal specializing in statistical analysis, shows that a direct free kick has a 6% chance of scoring a goal (it is said to be around one goal per 17 attempts).
The study analyzed the best specialists in the world (with at least ten free kicks and three goals scored) and concluded that Ronaldo is far from this elite: between 2014 and 2019, the Portuguese had a success rate below 5%, with the most important were free kicks are well above this value.
Messi, for example, is about 10% effective, but the most important “artists” are even above or close to 20% – names like James Rodríguez, James Maddison, Engel Di Maria, Iago Aspas, Juan Mata, Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho or… Miralem Pjanic and Paulo Dybala.