Still 'The Best'? Rusty Ronaldo needs his confidence back

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Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid
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The Portuguese is set to pick up the prestigious prize on Monday night, but is some way short of the form that has made him favourite for the award

Still 'The Best'? Cristiano Ronaldo has long been expected to claim FIFA's individual prize and should still pick up the award in London on Monday. However, his current form is a long way below his elite level and confidence was lacking again on Sunday.

The Portuguese started in a centre-forward role against Eibar at Santiago Bernabeu. He has often said that is not his preferred position and he looked uncomfortable there. Indeed, he was a peripheral figure for much of the first half, attempting just one shot in the entire 45 minutes.

Ronaldo 9/5 fav to be CL top scorer

Ronaldo was more involved after the interval, especially after the introduction of Karim Benzema. The French forward, who was criticised by Gary Lineker on Twitter during the 1-1 draw against Tottenham here on Tuesday, was defended by coach Zinedine Zidane on Saturday and ended up with an assist that showed the ex-England striker why he is about more than just goals.

That third goal was scored by Marcelo and it followed an own-goal by Paulo Oliveira (under pressure from Sergio Ramos) and another by Marco Asensio, whose shot took Eibar goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic completely by surprise.

Real Madrid Eibar graphic

So three goals and an emphatic win in the end for Real Madrid against a poor Eibar side, but again there was nothing for Ronaldo. The Portuguese had five attempts in total, including a wild free-kick blasted well over the bar. Two were on target and one he certainly should have scored, shooting straight at the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation.

Ronaldo at his best would bury that opportunity. However, things are not quite happening at the moment for the four-time Ballon d'Or winner. Yes, he is still scoring, but not nearly as much as he usually does. Seven goals in 10 games this season remains an impressive return, but one goal in five Liga games tells a different story.

With others chipping in, it did not matter much on Sunday as Madrid secured only their second league win at the season at the Bernabeu to stay within five points of leaders Barcelona and one behind second-placed Valencia in the table.

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid

But Ronaldo appears to be lacking in confidence right now after something of a subdued start to the season by his high standards. Indeed, since his stunning strike against Barcelona in the Spanish Supercopa in August (and subsequent suspension for pushing the referee), he has struggled to find his rhythm.

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Marcelo, who described Benzema in a television interview after the match as "the best number 9 in Europe", also added: "Cristiano scores so many goals [for us]. The team did a great job and we scored three goals. People forget how difficult it is."

At the moment, it is proving difficult for Ronaldo and that is unusual. But on this occasion, the team came through in spite of his inability to score and on Monday, he is set to pick up another inidividual award to add to his growing collection.

And everyone involved with Real Madrid will hope that 'The Best' can bring out the best in their main man soon.