Football Previews

Portugal v Spain: Cristiano Ronaldo is Europe’s ‘shot machine’ but can he extend record streak?

By Ben Green

Published: 16:00, 7 October 2020 | Updated: 9:19, 23 October 2020

When it comes to Cristiano Ronaldo two things are usually expected: shots (lots of them) and goals.

Whether strutting his stuff for Juventus or representing Portugal, Ronaldo rarely shuns the spotlight, taking on the goalscoring responsibility and more often than not, producing the goods for club and country.

He will be aiming to do so again when Portugal take on Spain in an international friendly at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon on Wednesday. Echoes of the last time these two nations met will no doubt be lingering when Luis Enrique travels with his squad across “The Stripe”.

At the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo netted his first goals against Spain, scoring a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw, including a last-gasp free-kick. In that match at the Stadion Fisht in Russia, Ronaldo took on more shots than any other player on the pitch (four), which represents a wider trend of his exploits.

It will come as no surprise to know that Ronaldo boasts high-ranking metrics for shots taken. But the extent and frequency to which he lets fly is truly staggering, even by his standards. Last season he was the only player in Europe’s top five leagues to manage 200 or more shots (208 to be exact).

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For context, the next player in Serie A produced only 142 (Ciro Immobile). In the Premier League, Mohamed Salah topped the charts with 132 (only one of three players to notch triple digits alongside Raul Jimenez and Gabriel Jesus), and even Lionel Messi managed just 159.

As for the Bundesliga, only two players cleared the 100 mark: Robert Lewandowski (138) and Timo Werner (123). And this stretches as far back as the 2016/17 season, with Ronaldo being the only player to surpass 200 in a single campaign across the continent’s top five divisions in that time frame.

No wonder he has found the back of the net as consistently as he has done during his career. Even at 35, he has already thrown down the gauntlet for the season, leading the charts in Serie A with 14 shots taken (in only two games, when most of the division have played three times).

Undoubtedly, Ronaldo will be looking to translate that form at international level later this week. He is currently enjoying his best goalscoring run for Portugal, netting in his last seven successive games, with an overall return of 13 goals — an astonishing rate of nearly two goals a game.

So, now that Ronaldo has crossed the 100-goal frontier at international level and is closing in on Ali Daei’s record of 109, he will be eager to pick up from where he left off in the last Iberian Derby two years ago.

He fired four successive blanks in the four meetings prior to the Russian World Cup against Spain, but Europe’s ultimate ‘shot master’ enters this contest in hot form (when is he not?) and with warm boots. David de Gea ready yourself. A Ronaldo onslaught is inevitable.


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