The Portuguese hit a hat-trick to take his tally versus the Catalans to eight this term, but he has to carry that form into tougher tests after failing in the big games in 2015-16.
The script seemed to be written before the match. Real Madrid would cruise to a comprehensive victory against Espanyol and Cristiano Ronaldo would be back among the goals. That’s what usually happens in this fixture and, sure enough, it was exactly how things turned out again on Sunday. Buy fifa coins and experience new charater you want.
Madrid had hit five past Espanyol at Cornella earlier this season, with Ronaldo on target five times in that 6-0 win in Barcelona. And this time, Real ran riot once again as they racked up the same scoreline – with Cristiano scoring a hat-trick.
Espanyol, of course, are often accused of fighting for their lives against city rivals Barcelona but lying down versus Madrid – and they did little to help that reputation as they went three goals behind within 16 minutes.
Karim Benzema gave Madrid the lead (the seventh time this term he has hit the first goal) with a header and Ronaldo added the second from the spot before James Rodriguez made it 3-0 with a deflected effort and Cristiano completed a fantastic first-half performance for Real with a superb strike as he dribbled past three defenders and curled an exquisite shot into the right-hand corner of the net.
It was his finest finish in many months and the first time he has dribbled past rival players to score in a long time – perhaps since his strike against Schalke in the Champions League en route to La Decima in 2013-14.
The Portuguese had got off to something of a slow start under Zinedine Zidane, scoring just twice in the Frenchman’s first three games and disappointing in the last of those: a 1-1 draw at Betis last weekend.
“Ronaldo doesn’t have to score every game,” Zidane said after this match. “When he doesn’t score three, we think something is wrong. He has tremendous ambition and today, aside from the goals, he did a great job defensively.”
And Ronaldo said in the mixed zone: “I’m very happy with the goals, but above all for the team. The goals come naturally.”
The Portuguese also criticised the pre-season preparations under previous coach Rafa Benitez and appears much more comfortable working with Zidane.
“The pre-season wasn’t good,” he said. “There were too many trips. Zizou has arrived with a different idea and we have to keep working this way.”
It is early days for Zidane, but one of the features so far is the improved performance of the midfield (Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in particular) and that, in theory, should help Ronaldo as well – along with the Frenchman’s emphasis on stepping up the fitness of his squad.
Ronaldo now has 30 goals from his 28 appearances in 2015-16, but eight of those have come in two games against Espanyol and the others versus sides like Levante, Getafe, Sporting Gijon, Rayo Vallecano, Las Palmas, Eibar, Shakhtar Donestk and Malmo.
Up against tough teams such as Atletico, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal and Paris Saint-Germain (twice), he has failed to convert. In fact, the only side in La Liga’s top six he had scored against this term is Celta Vigo.
After several games against ‘smaller’ sides in January, Madrid now face Athletic Bilbao, Roma and Atletico in three of their next four games. Buy fut16coin can upgrade your strength. So Ronaldo’s return to form on Sunday seems like good timing ahead of those tests, but if Madrid are to enjoy some success in the second half of this season, they need their main man firing when it matters most as well – and not only against sides like Espanyol.