With 18 goals in 14 games, Ronaldo is closing in on his best-ever season start

The Portuguese has had to adapt to a new system under Carlo Ancelotti and suffered the loss of one of his best associates in Mesut Ozil, but is currently in the form of his career

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Cristiano Ronaldo needs just one goal for Real Madrid in Saturday’s short trip to Rayo Vallecano in La Liga to register his finest scoring start to a season since turning professional.

Ronaldo currently has 18 goals from 14 competitive games for Madrid this term, including five penalties – an identical return to last season under Jose Mourinho – but the Portuguese failed to convert in his 15th game, and a goal in the capital clash with struggling Rayo on Saturday will see him surpass his 2012-13 strike-rate.

In total, Cristiano has hit an amazing 219 goals in 213 games for Madrid since signing from Manchester United in the summer of 2009, taking his goalscoring to an entire new level.

But his 18 strikes in 14 games so far this term represents his best season start, along with 2012-13 (when he failed to convert in his 15th game, a 4-0 win over Zaragoza in which he played the 90 minutes but saw Luka Modric, Ricardo Carvalho, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain get the goals).

In his debut campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu, 2009-10, Ronaldo netted 12 in his first 14 games (including just one penalty and another missed) – which were separated by an injury picked up on international duty.

The forward’s second season yielded 13 from the opening 14 fixtures (and three penalties), exactly the same return as 2011-12, which would ultimately bring a Liga title and a career-best 60 goals, before he netted 18 from his first 14 last term.

Ronaldo recovered from his much-publicised sadness at the beginning of last season and did well in front of goal despite the team’s poor form in La Liga.

In this campaign, the Portuguese has had to adapt to Carlo Ancelotti’s new system and a slow start (he scored just one from his side’s opening three league games), while he has also been without his great associate Mesut Ozil. The playmaker, sold to Arsenal on deadline day, set up more goals (27) than anyone for Cristiano in the previous three campaigns.

The 28-year-old will now hope to continue his successful streak in front of goal before Ballon d’Or voting closes on November 15.

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