Former Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster has questioned Cristiano Ronaldo’s hunger ahead of the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich.
The Portugal international has been unable to match his goalscoring records from previous seasons in 2016-17, netting 26 times in 36 appearances in all competitions.
Though still a respectable figure, the 26 goals fall some way short of the lofty standards Ronaldo has set in recent years, with the 32-year-old having surpassed the 50-goal mark in each of the last six seasons.
Only two of those goals came in the Champions League and Schuster feels Ronaldo is no longer showing the same desire.
“I no longer see this real hunger for success with Ronaldo,” Schuster told Welt.
“His team could be 4-0 up before, but he would still be desperate to get two goals himself. He was downright aggressive when it came to this. He desperately wanted a goal, even if it was just a penalty.
“This is something of the past now.”
With Ronaldo struggling to reach his past heights, there is more onus on Gareth Bale to step up and lead Madrid, but Schuster is not impressed with the Welshman either.
“Bale is standing around a lot but does not get involved a lot,” Schuster added.
“He needs time after his injury. He is not like [Arjen] Robben, who is back at 100 percent right away after six weeks on the sidelines.
“But you cannot write them off. These two could wake up again all of a sudden from out of nowhere and put in a great performance, particularly in the Champions League.”
Meanwhile, Ronaldo may well miss the El Clasico this month like his Barcelona opposition Neymar.
Neymar has seen his place in the Clasico come under threat with a red card against Malaga – but could Cristiano Ronaldo also miss out on the clash?
While the Brazilian awaits to find out whether his dissent at the end of Barcelona’s 2-0 defeat could cost him dearly, the Real Madrid star is also walking a tightrope.
With just one game to go before the game which could decide the fate of this season’s Liga title, he sits uncomfortably on four yellow cards.
Dani Carvajal took extreme measures on Saturday to ensure his own participation.
The right-back picked up his fifth booking with a cynical foul during the 1-1 draw against Atletico, missing the game against the relegation strugglers in order to return against Barca.
But Ronaldo had no such intention of earning a caution, and thus must run the gauntlet – unless Zinedine Zidane decides to protect his star by keeping him off the pitch until the grudge match looms.
With Real Madrid three points clear of their rivals with a game in hand, resting his star goalscorer is a risk that the Frenchman could well be willing to take.