In a change to his usual formation, Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini posted Cristiano Ronaldo down the right hand side against Bilbao, rather than his left-sided role which he has played for most of the season, as Los Blancos fell to their third league defeat of the year on Saturday.
Ronaldo’s opening 45 minutes was a mixed bag. Sprinkled with the standard fancy flicks and neat turns we’ve come to expect, the world’s most expensive footballer was stifled by the Bilbao midfield and left-back Koikili in particular in a first half with very few chances for the visitors.
Typically, Ronaldo also manged to get the home crowd on his back with a number of tumbles in the first forty-five. It took CR9 just six minutes to find himself eating his first mouthful of grass despite the fact that no contact was made on the forward as he hit the surface.
After the break Ronaldo was more purposeful in an attacking sense. The Portuguese star teed up Raul for a shot on target that the Spaniard wastefully fired over the bar early on in the second period, while Ronaldo also managed to force home keeper Gorka Iraizoz into a number of saves with a couple of shots on target, however the shot-stopper was in sublime form throughout the night as he stole the man of the match award.
Individual match highlights of Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance against Athletic Bilbao can be seen here.