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Cristiano Ronaldo homes in on La Liga landmark

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Phil Minshull | 13:21 UK time, Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Can Cristiano Ronaldo be the first man to reach 40 goals in a La Liga season?

Lionel Messi got plenty of deserved plaudits a few weeks ago when he became the first player to score 50 goals in a Spanish campaign, so it's only appropriate that due recognition is paid to Ronaldo now that he has also reached that memorable milestone.

Ronaldo's two fantastic goals, both free-kick thunderbolts, in Real's 3-1 win at Villarreal on Sunday took his tally to 38 league goals for the season and 51 in all competitions, adding to the seven he has got in the Copa del Rey and six in the Champions League.

It is his La Liga statistics that stand out even, though his extra-time header in the Copa del Rey final, which gave Real a 1-0 win over Barcelona and Jose Mourinho his first trophy as the Madrid coach, may go down as his most significant strike of the season.

In league games, including nine goals in his last three matches, he has been banging them in as he strives not to be overshadowed by Messi as the season draws to a close.


Ronaldo has an opportunity to step out of Messi's shadow. Photo - AP

In Ronaldo's 33 league games, 26 goals have gone in with his right foot, eight with his left and he's scored four headers. Four have come from free-kicks and eight from the penalty spot.

His two most recent goals on Sunday led him to equal the seasonal tallies of two of the most famous names in Spanish football: Athletic Bilbao's Telmo Zarra and Real's Hugo Sanchez, who scored 38 goals apiece in the 1950-51 and 1989-90 seasons.

Zarra reached his mark in 30 La Liga games and Sanchez did it in 36. By contrast, Ronaldo has done it in 33.

"The truth is, I never expected to score so many goals this season. It's an honour to be considered alongside these two greats of football," said Ronaldo rather modestly on Sunday.

It's an understandable statement considering that Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema started the season as the focal points of the Real attack. But Mourinho quickly gave Ronaldo an almost free rein to do what he liked and go wherever he wanted.

Even if equalling Zarra and Sanchez's record did go a little bit under the radar in many other countries across Europe as they were preoccupied with their own title races and promotion and relegation battles, Ronaldo made plenty of headlines in Spain.

"Cristiano is now a legend," said Spanish sports daily Marca. "Cristiano is in Olympus alongside Zarra and Hugo Sanchez," added its rival As.

Even if their front pages lurched towards hyperbole, you cannot deny that Ronaldo deserves the credit.

Everything now is being set up for the Portuguese star to take sole possession of the record on Saturday when Real play host to bottom club Almeria, a team who have kept only one clean sheet at home all season and memorably went down 8-0 to Barcelona in November.

"Very few reach these figures (of Ronaldo's goals). It's something only three players in history have done. Reaching this figure says everything about Cristiano's talent," said Real team captain Iker Casillas on Tuesday.

"We can't win anything more as a team but we can help Cristiano achieve it [the record]. It's important that our team-mate gets as many goals as possible and is honoured as one of the best strikers in the world," he added, hinting that there can be some fun on Saturday at Almeria's expense.

It certainly doesn't look like it's going to be the typical tepid end-of-season kickabout between two teams with nothing left to play for.

Critics of Ronaldo will still argue that he doesn't do the business in the big games and that getting a hatful against Almeria will prove nothing.

Perhaps he will never shed that reputation until he does something spectacular in a Champions League final or Portugal jersey.

However, this season, in part thanks to Mourinho speaking the same language as him, literally and metaphorically, his head has rarely gone down when it has mattered.


Madrid's star player is hoping to get his hands on a memorable milestone. Photo - AP

His Copa del Rey goal showed that and Real Madrid's failure to advance past Barcelona in the Champions League could hardly be laid at his feet.

His two goals against Villarreal and four at Sevilla just over a week ago were against teams whose places in Europe next season was still not settled.

In addition to further domestic glory, Ronaldo also has a chance to achieve a feat of huge continental significance.

The Golden Shoe is as-good-as his but not since 'Der Bomber' Gerd Muller, scored 40 goals for Bayern Munich in the 1971-72 season has a striker in one of Europe's big leagues won it with as many goals in a single campaign.

In fact, tallies in the mid-20s have been sufficient to win the award on several occasions in the last decade.

Yes, there have been players in the Austrian, Georgian, Portuguese and Romanian leagues who have reached 40 goals since Muller's mark. I'm also not forgetting the 43 that David Taylor bagged for Porthmadog in the League of Wales, which won him the European Golden Boot award in 1994.

However, with the greatest of respect to the likes of Eusebio, Mario Jardel, Hans Krankl and a few others who also got 40 goals or more in a season; I think everyone knows what we are talking about here.

Ronaldo may even have the last laugh over his rival Messi, who has currently got 52 goals in all competitions, but has not found the net in Barca's last five games, since he scored twice in the controversial Champions League, semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu.

Messi is likely to be on the bench in Barcelona's last league game at Malaga on Saturday as Pep Guardiola rests key players ahead of the Champions League final against Manchester United on 28 May.

If Ronaldo continues his recent scoring spree at Almeria, Messi may have to get past the likes of Edwin van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and whoever Sir Alex Ferguson opts for at right back, if he is to retain his bragging rights.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    I don't think that this is particualry significant considering the fact that its pretty much known everywhere that the spanish league in general is of a poor standard. Apart from the 2 obvious teams there is no other team of any real quality.

    Of course scoring 40 goals in 1 season is an achievement, and you can only beat whats put in front of you, but given the quality of the opposition i tihkn he would have been disappointed if he had not scored over 25 goals this season. Which no 1 (probably) will do in the EPL this year!

  • Comment number 2.

    Spanish La Liga - yes major league - but your having a laugh saying its one of the most competitive - its a 2 team league

  • Comment number 3.

    @ post 1

    It's not that there's no other teams of real quality, it's that Barca and Real are so far ahead of even the best of the rest.

  • Comment number 4.

    #1

    If Ronaldo was in the Premier league this year he would easily be top goal scorer. He is an amazing player who has eclipsed Messi in La Liga although Messi has been far superior in the Champions League.

    In my opinion Messi is slightly the better player, but he also gets to play with the best two creative midfielders in the world. These two players are streets ahead of anyone else and they are both still yet to reach their peak. It will be interesting to see what happens next season when Mouriniho's team begins to gel better.

  • Comment number 5.

    To Liverpaul85..."it is generally known that the Spanish League is of poor standard.."

    Generally known where, Liverpool? The Spanish League is as good as the EPL, if not better. Spain and its Spanish players won the Euro Cup and the World Cup...with players that except for Fabregas all play in the Spanish League. Five minutes of watching English football reveals that it is all about running from one end of the field to the other. There is no technique. Except for maybe Arsenal and lately Manchester City, no one can hold on to the ball for more than a minute.

  • Comment number 6.

    The difference between now and the rest of the season is that Madrid are playing for Ronaldo. Messi is still playing for Barca. Barca have serious business to attend to. If Madrid made it to the final there is no way Ronaldo would be scoring like this. He'd be making sure he played within himself to stay fit for the final.

    They're both amazing players and I'm hoping for the same from them next year.

  • Comment number 7.

    @ post 4

    completely agree with the last bit you say about real madrid not having fully gelled with each other yet.

    i also agree that xavi, iniesta provide some outstanding passes which messi only has to convert. this is why i believe ronaldo is the best player in the world. he has scored some massive goals, against arsenal, barcelona and i remember 2 outstanding strikes at the world cup that crashed against the post comared to the very little messi did.

    i believe ronaldo has more raw talent (not by a lot though) and that the only thing that seperates them really is ronaldo's aerial ability

  • Comment number 8.

    @ 4.

    I agree that ronaldo is an amazing player and that he probably would be top scorer. Man Utd are a Worse team without him (no offence to Man Utd. not saying they're a bad team. All teams would be better with ronaldo). But i just feel that there is a major lack of competition in La Liga.

    People say the EPL has been poor this year, i disagree. I just think the Everton's, Boltons and Villas have just got closer to the top 6.

    @3

    Barca and Real are 2 very good teams that would do well in any league, but the gap at the top is just ridiculous. it just shows that the quality isn't there amongst the rest of the league! 21 points between 2nd and 3rd. and you reckon the league is good??

  • Comment number 9.

    # 1 Liverpaul: you big kidder you. For a second you got me all fired up with your comment, but then I uderstood what you were trying to pull. No real quality in la Liga beside the obvious two. Good one, very good one indeed.

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't agree winning the "pichichi" with 40 goals or more will give Ronaldo bragging rights. He wants titles and Real Madrid needs titles like la Liga and the CL, not la Copa del Rey. Messi still has the upper hand no matter how many goals Ronaldo scores. And the Portuguese is painfully aware of it.

  • Comment number 11.

    the spanish league is Poor!!! its a fact. How many of their teams have done well in the champions league in the last 5 years?? Spurs did well this year and Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal all do well in the champions League. Man Utd are in the final. apart from Barca no other spanish team has done well in the last 5 years.

    As for you saying about spain winning the world cup and euro championships....with 10 of the starting 11 playing for.....Barca or Real!!!

    teams like valencia, Villareal, sevilla are the same standard as the mid table teams in england.

    spain may have players that are "technically" good but they are not consistant, not determined and not a patch on some of the players that play in england.

    Yes....2 of the best players in the world play in spain, for the 2 best teams in spain. But there is no depth to the league! Even Fulham pushed Athletico madrid all the way in the Europa League last year!

  • Comment number 12.

    Messi and Ronaldo are very good players but if Maradona was 25-28, they'd both live in his shadow.

    It's very nice to have a blog mid week.

  • Comment number 13.

    Cristiano ronaldo never been on messi shadow. He is great player and the one most expensive player on the planet.Messi only playing with Barcelona from his childhood but Ronaldo come from english culb and soon he motivate himslef to spainsh stylle football. We can't say that La liga is poor quality. we can see all the greatest player they playing on la liga

  • Comment number 14.

    @ 5. At 00:53am 19th May 2011, PeterScribe wrote:

    "Except for maybe Arsenal and lately Manchester City, no one can hold on to the ball for more than a minute."

    Very funny :)

  • Comment number 15.

    Yeah it is nice to have a blog midweek. think your comment is wrong but its your opinion.

    plus, if maradona was 25-28 can you imagine how good argentina would be?! messi and diego in the same team??!! WOW!

  • Comment number 16.

    @ 15, Liverpaul85,

    English fans will always remember the 'hand of god' incident but, if you look at facts, Maradona went to Napoli, a mediocre club in Italy and they won the title. Also, many would argue that he, alone, won the World Cup for Argentina.

    I like both Messi and Ronaldo but, when I remember Maradona's skills, I think both Messi and Ronaldo would simply live in his shadow.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ 16 Football_uk

    Like i said thats your opinion. I disagree with it. But we will never know the real answer! Just like you can't actually definitively say that messi is better than ronaldo or that ronaldo is better than messi. its only ever opinion

    But i can tell you now, There is at least 11 other people who will tell you that maradona did not win the world cup on his own. Those people being the 10 other players and the manager. No player anywhere in the world can win a game on his own!

    Did maradona make 5 saves every game? or goal stopping tackles?? or set up the tactics to beat everyone else?? come on now....your intelligent enough to know, that whilst being a brilliant player, maradona couldn't win games all by himself.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 13. Naresh

    We're not saying that La Liga doesn't have quality, just that quality is pretty much situated within only 2 teams. Yes there are other players of quality in the league, but they are individuals not a whole team of quality.

    Look at the EPL...Arsenal, who beat barcelona this season, are going to finish 4th. can you say that Villareal would beat Man Utd? i don't think so!

  • Comment number 19.

    @ 17, Liverpaul85,

    (and good morning) :)

    It's courses for courses and personal opinions.
    My opinion is based on a simple fact: If Argentina didn't have Maradona they'd probably have won 2 World Cups less. Messi and Ronaldo haven't been influential to their national teams.

    I also remember some of Maradona's games: vaguely for sure but those skills, even if viewed in a portion today, we see people using superlatives in praise.

    Also, it's always fun reading comments-eulogies of La Liga. I was just wondering, when the next season begins and all United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool look threatening for the title, each team in their own right, how many fans will be sharing the view about La Liga's quality as a league? :)

  • Comment number 20.

    @ 17, Liverpaul85,

    of course I was exaggerating. I just wanted to emphasise. Don't take it literally.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ 19 Football_uk

    Exactly my point. While La Liga does have undoubted quality in the form of barca and real, there is such a lack of it in the rest of the league. The EPL will probably have 6 teams challenging next year and then down to about 10th the points difference will be very small. Also, the teams at the bottom, while not being as good (obviously) still beat the "bigger" teams or at least get decent results (with the odd exception).

    And in regards to Maradona, i'm sure the argies wouldn't have won as many world cups without him, and that they were definitely a better team with him in the side, but he wouldn't have been as good as he was without 10 other players to help him out every game.

    And tbh, i wasn't around for the "hand of god" incident and although i have seen it, because i wasn't there, it doesn't really grate on me that much. Plus the other goal he scored in that game..AMAZING!!

    Still, i read somewhere that there were players saying that best was a better player than maradona or pele?! I really can't comment on that because i have only ever seen snippets of best. But having spoken to people that did see him play they said he was amazing. Ball control was second to none (apparantly)

  • Comment number 22.

    I find it amusing that we are having a debate about La Liga teams holding it's own against Premier League teams. When it is the reverse which is a fact.

    Writers Bias: (Australian with 2 British parents I love Forest (COYR) and love everything about the premier league.

    Stats;
    Premier League - 40% English Players
    La Liga - 77% Spanish Players

    The following teams are upper to mid range that have faced off in recent history (30 Years)

    On their day;
    Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and Atlético Madrid can easily hold their own and win games against teams such as Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton.
    And the same goes vice versa on their day. If you don't believe me look up the statistics of these teams through history and you will see the statistics are 50:50 with a few anomalies.

    The rest of the teams below mid range cannot be commented on because when was the last time that Blackpool faced Almeria? somebody look it but i bet the answer is never!

    La Liga with the majority of its players being from its own nation is the most talented league in the world with top quality teams top to bottom of the ladder.

    Why because you remove the foreign players from the premier league and it would have to change its name to "Sunday League" or the "Hyundai A league" (look this league up if you don't know what it is, yes I can easily take a shot at my own country).

    Finally Paul Minshull I'm sorry for blogging about a topic which is irrelevant to subject matter of your story; which I did read from top to bottom and found very informative. But I had to respond to drivel being posted by people who have never seen a match outside of their favourite league.

  • Comment number 23.

    Put it this way: if Ronaldo and Messi switched teams, whose performance, but especially their strike rate'd improve?

    Ronaldo'd almost certainly score far more goals playing for Barca, but I couldn't say the same thing for Messi.

    Messi'd also have to work far, far harder.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ 22 Bramwell

    Where exactly are these top quality spanish players (Excluding the Barcelona And Real Madrid squads)??

    No one on here has said that La Liga doesn't have quality players, of course it does, but there is no strength in depth to the league. We're not talking about the last 30 years. We're talking about now. This season!!! I watch a lot of La Liga, I love spain and i love spanish football. the national team are by far the best team in the world. Barcelona are arguably the best club team in the world. But there is no depth to the league at this moment in time.

    And the topic is relevant to the blog due to the fact that ronaldo has scored 40 goals this season in what we believe to be a poor league.

    I will also even up the argument slightly by saying that even in the premier league the top scorer there has pretty much only scored against the lesser teams (excluding the hat trick against my beloved liverpool). 5 against blackburn, take that game out of the equation and he has only scored something like 17 goals this season.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 21, Liverpaul85,

    What I'm wondering is when English football fans start saying La Liga is a better league. I have a suspicion it's when the teams that fans support disappoint them during the season that it is when this argument comes about. I can't explain it otherwise.

    George Best was the player that made me as a kid say "I support United". I tend to not try to find the best player - just, there are occasions when I fall in the trap. To me, it's like going to a very good restaurant and have a delicious meal. And then we start wondering which dish is the best and end up to leave a restaurant not pleased. It's silly to me. Many players are best players, if you can follow my silly, simplistic logic.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    My personal opinion is that I prefer Cristiano Ronaldo to Lionel Messi.

    As said by some previous posts, Messi is aided by the 2 best midfielder's in the world. This makes a huge difference to the amount of goals he scores. Just look at Messi at the World Cup, still surrounded by good players but nothing close to his club team. Then we have Spain who have Xavi and Iniesta. They have won the Euro's and World Cup, without having Messi in front of them. It's obvious that these 2 are the reason Messi is held in such high regard, however good he clearly is anyway.

    Ronaldo stands out to me because at both Club and Country he doesn't quite have the same quality around him. Portugal are poor. Real Madrid can be good but they are nothing spectacular. Ronaldo is by far the stand out player at Madrid as opposed to Barcelona possessing multiple players who could be seen as the 'best'. Argentina as well have a lot of top players who perform well for their country whereas Portugal don't really. So I see Ronaldo as the better individual based on these reasons and my personal opinion.

    In all fairness, Ronaldo doesn't always step up in the big games but it's not those games that mean the most. When Man United lost Ronaldo, it was his ability to finish off the 'smaller' teams that was missed the most, those games decide where the title ends up at the end of the season. He has also scored in the Champions League final when United beat Chelsea, so that is a decent contribution at the highest level whether he played well or not. How many other 'big names' have outstanding games in those situations? Most the time it's a fairly average game and we rarely see that moment of genius in the big games anyway.

  • Comment number 28.

    @ 25. Football_uk

    Yeah i think i get what you mean. I don't think there can ever be a "best" player. at the end of the day, its about opinion. For me, i would say that a couple of years ago Gerrard was the best player in the world. Now, although he is a legend, i feel that other players have come along and are better.

    But you can show all the stats in the world to say that tis lpayer is better thn that player, or he does this better but if it is your opinion that someone is better then nothing will make you change your mind.

    I Honestly believe that in a league of the top 6 teams from EPL and La Liga the english teams in general would fare better. Not saying that the english teams would finish above Barca or real but i'm pretty certain that they would finish above the other 4.

  • Comment number 29.

    @ Liverpaul85

    Look some of these guys before you say Rooney is "world class"...

    All World Class:

    Silva for me was awesome... he only left Valencia for money

    Santi Carzola, Rossi, Nilmar - Villareal
    Banega, Soldado, Mata - Valencia
    Forlan, De gea, Aguero - A. Madrid
    Lorente - Bilboa
    Negredo, Navas - Sevilla
    Osvaldo

    ..those which come to mind ... in a minute ......All players who are more then good enough for top EPL teams
    [I thought of these in last couple of seconds]

  • Comment number 30.

    When the next season starts in Spain, it's easy to predict what will happen:

    a) the title will be won by Barcelona or Real Madrid;
    b) top scorer will be Ronaldo or Messi;
    c) most passes in the season will be between Xavi and Iniesta;
    d) Barcelona will play their normal, passing game;
    e) Real Madrid will gell better as a team, if they don't buy again 4-5 players.

    Now, try to predict what will happen in the Premier League and you'll need a few days to write your book.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think Messi is miles ahead of Christiano Ronaldo .......
    We talk about Messi's dribbling and Finishing but about his passing, the two audacious through balls to Villa in the first El Classico at Camp Nou ........ Even Xavi and Iniesta could not have come up with balls with so much precision and vission let alone Ronaldo can.
    No matter what Ronaldo achieves at Madrid he will always be eclipsed by Messi in Spain ....

  • Comment number 32.

    @ 28

    I liked your post there. Don't agree that ronaldo is better but i understand your argument and respect your opinion. However, I will say that (world cup aside) Messi does stand out in the big games, CL semi's against Madrid, Messi....2 goals. Just an example.

    But the same can be said about ronaldo scoring in the Copa Del Ray final.

    My opinion is that messi is the better all round player, yes he has Xavi and Iniesta to help him, but ronaldo did brilliantly at Man Utd due to having Scholes and rooney Feeding him.

    both players are obviously very gifted, but i think messi has that little bit of genius. does the simple things really well and makes the difficult things look easy. Also, for me, is much more of a team player

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 29, REDROVER,

    I can't have an opinion on all the players you mentioned but I can certainly say something about two of them:

    Forlan left United as a failure. He can be excellent in some games and utterly anonymous in other matches. To give you an example, in Atletico's matches against Aris Salonica he was in the pitch (I think - emphasising).

    Rossi showed in the Villareal matches against Porto why United let him go: selfish when it's criminal, average speed, good instinct, average accuracy.

  • Comment number 34.

    He is selfish. He is cocky. But nobody works harder than him. Nobody is as complete as this guy is. He was doing extra training in Sporting's youth academy, started in Sporting's first team at 17, demolished ManU in Sporting's opener at their new stadium, making Giggs and Neville tell Ferguson to buy him. In England he scored 31 goals in 34 matches PLAYING AS A WINGER. In Spain 38 in 33 in a free role. The English league has more talented players (mostly foreign) but lacks the tactical knowledge. The Spanish does not have the individual talent of the English but teams are better organized. In Italy you prove yourself as a forward as you often have half a chance per game...but you often end up injured (e.g. Ronaldo at Inter).
    Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane and Ronaldo are the most talented players of the XXI century. However, the best players are Xavi and Ryan Giggs. It is not about the goals, it is about knowing how to play the game and winning trophies.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ Bramwell #22
    "On their day;
    Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and Atlético Madrid can easily hold their own and win games against teams such as Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton.
    And the same goes vice versa on their day. If you don't believe me look up the statistics of these teams through history and you will see the statistics are 50:50 with a few anomalies.

    The rest of the teams below mid range cannot be commented on because when was the last time that Blackpool faced Almeria? somebody look it but i bet the answer is never!"
    -----------------------------
    Comparing their results over the last 50 years means nothing. Just as an example, the Man City team is by far the best they've had in their history, and would quite easily beat any team in Spain other than Barcelona or Madrid. Why do you think Ronaldo has broken all these scoring records in Spain, and why Barcelona and Real Madrid usually finish 15+ points ahead of the rest of the pack(with at least double the goal difference)? It's because the rest of the league is quite poor in comparison.

    As for the Messi vs. Ronaldo debate. Messi may be better but it's hard to tell when he's played his entire career at possibly the best team in the world. Messi is playing as the focal point of "the greatest team of all time", with the 3rd and 4th best players in the world feeding him genius passes every game. On the other hand, Ronaldo has finished top scorer in both Spain and England, playing brilliantly for United and Madrid. And when compared on the only fair playing field: league goals, Ronaldo comes out on top(you can't compare Messi and Ronaldo's CL records because they faced different teams).

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with REDROVER ....
    the players mentioned in his list are better than any EPL player. I personally think Banega is one of the best Center Midfielder in the World and LLorente can become one of the best strikers. Rossi, Aguero, Navas, Forlan and Mata have already proven themselves to be a class act.
    EPL is over rated, teams like Stoke, Blackburn and Sunderland Play rugby not Football.

  • Comment number 37.

    @32: In Barca's team a very talented player becomes enormous. People forget what Messi does for Argentina. Put Ronaldo on a Barca's jersey and Messi playing in Real Madrid. Xavi is the one that makes things work for Barca. He has been the best in the last three seasons and people never gave him the credit.

  • Comment number 38.

    @ 29. Redrover

    Agree that some, not all, of those players are world class. but i never said there wasn't quality in La Liga, i said the standard of the TEAMS was poor. Not certain individuals.

    But i disagree that forlan should be in that list, couldn't hack it in the EPL. Also, rossi for me is a good player but again, not world class.

    And you say about David Silva, he is now in the EPL and has made that a better league. And that is what my argument is about, that the EPL has more strength in depth than La Liga. Silva is playing in a team that won't even finish in the top 2 this season. So that shows you how good the EPL is!

  • Comment number 39.

    All World Class:

    Silva for me was awesome... he only left Valencia for money

    Santi Carzola, Rossi, Nilmar - Villareal
    Banega, Soldado, Mata - Valencia
    Forlan, De gea, Aguero - A. Madrid
    Lorente - Bilboa
    Negredo, Navas - Sevilla
    Osvaldo
    ------------------------
    If these players are World Class then there are about 500 World Class players in professional football right now. These are the Joey Barton's and Ashley Young's of La Liga...good, but nobody in their right mind considers them World Class. Plus just look at Tottenham. They made it to the quarters of the Champions League, knocking out Serie A's current champion in the process, and they'll just barely clinch 5th in the Premier League IF they can win their final game.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 33 Football UK

    I was just making a point.. that there are good players in La Liga other than in Madrid and Barca team.

    Forlan was kinda awesome in the world cup though...
    If a player has a bad time at one club doesn't make him a poor player...
    Remember Shevchenko.. he was a sooooooo good at Milan, really dire at Chelsea

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 40, REDROVER,

    I can see the point.
    If all good players were playing in top 6 in the Premiership and top 2 in La Liga, in 5-6 years you wouldn't want to watch Premiership neither La Liga, as after them would be chaos.

  • Comment number 42.

    @ 40 Redrover

    Shevchenko is a completely different matter altogether, he was an ageing player when he joined chelsea and their style of play never suited him.

    Forlan was at an age where he should have been able to adapt to man utd's style of play. he couldn't. and although he has done better it has mainly been in what is a poor standard of football. He had a good world cup but lets be fair, Greece managed to win a European championship so 6/7 games doesn't really make you a fantastic player/team.

    @ 36

    You say that stoke, Blackburn and Sunderland play rugby, not football. But there are different styles of playing. these teams have different qualities. Yes they may not pass like Barcelona. but if the players in these teams are not as strong technically then they have to use what is available to them.

    Same in so many different aspects of life. doesn't make them bad clubs, makes them intelligent and well organised. A trait that some spanish teams could learn from

  • Comment number 43.

    Messi is the best ever Barca Player...

    Maradona, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Romario, Eto'o, Cruyff, Guardiola, Xavi, Ineista, Stoickov, Laudrup, Figo, Deco

    Were all Barca players within last 30 years.

    He is a legend at 23 years.

    He does perform for Argentina - he's only been in the team for couple of years mainly under a bad manager - Maradona.

  • Comment number 44.

    Yeah .... I would watch Sirie A .... esp. because rumours have it that A.C. Milan is going through a revamp. A stylish club based in stylish city .
    But you guys are not considering the performance of Liverpool and Man City in Europa Cup. They were knocked out in the quaters while Villareal made it to the Semis.

  • Comment number 45.

    "Blackburn and Sunderland play rugby, not football."

    I'm a Blackburn Rovers fan.. that hurt
    Not anymore.. only under Big Sam hoof da ball up Allardyce

    I'm sure Liverpool invented the "park a bus or a plane" football
    It's only till a former league winning Rovers manager came.. they've started playing good football.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think the easiest way to compare the teams is by looking at who's always left in the Champions League. There's been an English team in the final 5 out of the past 6 years, with 4 different teams appearing there. Not to mention, Manchester United have been to 3 finals in the past 4 seasons, there was an all English final in 2008, 3 English teams in the semis in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and there was a 2 year streak a few years ago where the English teams only got knocked out by each other.

    As for Spain, Barcelona have been the only team to make it to the final in 5 years, and Villareal have been to 1 semi.

    Enough said...

  • Comment number 47.

    I find it puzzling that fans talk about "proper way to play football".
    All great teams can beat teams playing different styles of football.
    And different approaches to football is what gives additional beauty to the sport.

    For example, in last night's Europa Cup final, there were two things to be admired there, at least to me:

    a) the Falcao goal which was a beauty;
    b) the defensive display of Braga, putting in a triangle of players any Port player having the ball, dangerously near their goal.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    Lets study the last decade of Champions League Football ......
    1998-99 Man Utd
    1999-00 Real Madrid
    2000-01 Bayern Munich
    2001-02 Real Madrid
    2002-03 AC Milan
    2003-04 Porto
    2004-05 Liverpool
    2005-06 Barcelona
    2006-07 AC Milan
    2007-08 Man Utd
    2008-09 Barcelona
    2009-10 Inter Milan

    Champions League trophy has gone to Spain 4 times compared to thrice to Italy and thrice to England.

    I agree that the top 4 teams in EPL have depth and quality but the rest of the teams are not at par with the corresponding teams in La Liga. Valencia, Villareal, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao are excellent teams in comparison to teams like Aston Villa, Everton, Fulham etc.

    As for Tottenham Hotspurs, they were lucky not to concede a goal against AC Milan and played Inter when they were under a very poor manager (Rafa Benitez).

  • Comment number 50.

    @ 49, SirSammy,

    There is a very important detail when it comes to the two Spanish giants, though:
    Between them, they share £300m a year from TV money, taking the lion share of TV money in Spanish football.

    Give any top 6 of the Premiership an additional £60m per season to put in transfers and they will definitely add value to their team and trophies.

  • Comment number 51.

    @ 49 Sirsammy

    Like we have said about 15 times already, nobody is saying there is no quality La Liga. But look at the Spanish teams that have won it...only Barcelona and Real Madrid.

    you say that tottenham were lucky against Milan, but milan couldn't even score against them in 2 games. 5th in the EPL plays top of serie A and they still couldn't score. Strength in depth my friend, strength in depth!

    You say Benitez is a poor manager, a man who won the Champions league, got Liverpool to another CL final, took Liverpool to 2nd in EPL and was involved with Real Madrid for many years. but yes, 6months at Inter makes him a bad manager.

    You say that Valencia (3rd in La Liga), Villareal (4th in La Liga etc are excellent compared to Aston Villa, and your probably right, but compared to Man city and Arsenal (the teams that will finish 3rd and 4th in the EPL) they are not even in comparison!

    Think before you write....

  • Comment number 52.

    As for lack of competition in La Liga:
    1. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid play a virtual sudden Death Penalty shoot out.
    2. Valencia, Villareal, Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla compete for the other two champions league spot.
    3. Mourinho's unbeaten Home-Games record was broken in Spain.

    I think this qualifies as competition .....

  • Comment number 53.

    As for lack of competition in La Liga:
    1. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid play a virtual sudden Death Penalty shoot out.
    2. Valencia, Villareal, Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla compete for the other two champions league spot.
    3. Mourinho's unbeaten Home-Games record was broken in Spain.

    I think this qualifies as competition ....

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 49 Sirsammy

    Like we have said about 15 times already, nobody is saying there is no quality La Liga. But look at the Spanish teams that have won it...only Barcelona and Real Madrid.

    you say that tottenham were lucky against Milan, but milan couldn't even score against them in 2 games. 5th in the EPL plays top of serie A and they still couldn't score. Strength in depth my friend, strength in depth!

    You say Benitez is a poor manager, a man who won the Champions league, took Liverpool to 2nd in EPL. Was involved with Real Madrid for many years. but yes, 6months at Inter makes him a bad manager.

    You say that Valencia (3rd in La Liga), Villareal (4th in La Liga etc are excellent compared to Aston Villa, and your probably right, but compared to Man city and Arsenal (the teams that will finish 3rd and 4th in the EPL) they are not even in comparison!

    Think before you write....

  • Comment number 55.

    #29

    You say the teams outside the top 4 in England aren't on par with their corresponding teams in La Liga, but I'm confident that Tottenham and Liverpool would easily beat Sevilla and Athletico Bilbao over two legs.

    Plus Wolves have beaten Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Man City this season, yet they could still get relegated. Do you really think any of the bottom half teams in La Liga would have the potential to beat all these teams in the same season? And yes, I know Hercules beat Barcelona, but anything can happen in 90 minutes and Wolves' didn't just beat one of these teams, they beat them all.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hello Phil, do you know how many of the eight penalties were won (if that is the right word) by Ronaldo? and how many Messi has buried from the spot? I just think it's cheating somewhat to have these included in the annual tally when theoretically Casillas could be Real's penalty taker and by now would be one of the clubs highest scoring players.

    Still, you have to give it to the lad, he's bagged a hatful and is worth the plaudits - I just want to see the first person stick 50 in the onion bag from open play.

  • Comment number 57.

    As for lack of competition in La Liga:
    1. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid play a virtual sudden Death Penalty shoot out.
    2. Valencia, Villareal, Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla compete for the other two champions league spot.
    3. Mourinho's unbeaten Home-Games record was broken in Spain.

    I think this qualifies as competition ....

    With Ever Banega in Batista's Argentina Team, we will see a completely new Lionel Messi playing with more freedom and lesser responsibilities .....

  • Comment number 58.

    Ronaldo has had an unbelievable season and is quite rightly seen as one of the best in the business but in my opinion is not in the same class as Messi. Ronaldo is better in the air and has a stronger shot than Messi but thats it.All he has is raw pace,once he starts to slow down as he gets older then he won't be able to beat players quite as easily.Messi on the other hand has natural talent that only a handful of players of players have.Messi has to ability to go past players as if they are not there and really is a joy to watch,also ronaldo has one of the worst attitudes in the game and really should take a long hard look at messi to see how a footballer should conduct himself on the pitch!

  • Comment number 59.

    Rafa destroyed a well settled Mourinho's Inter........
    He just had to make small tweaks but he was cataclysmic for the defending champions......

  • Comment number 60.

    Only Man Utd made it to the semis this year and none of the EPL teams made it to the semis last......
    Barca have reached the semis for 4 consecutive years and even Real were in the semifinals .......
    English Clubs also have a dismal Europa League record only Liverpool winning the trophy in the last decade where as Seviila have brace and Valencia and Atletico have won the coveted trophy twice.

  • Comment number 61.

    @60 * atletico and Valencia have won the trophy once ....

  • Comment number 62.

    No need to undermine the other golden boot winners like that from the leagues outside the big 5 - the system is designed to take into account the difference between the leagues.

    Ronaldo's achievement is absolutely incredible, set to be one of the greatest golden boot winners ever, however that should not in any way undermine the achievements of players such as Eusebio and Larsson with their impressive tallys in other leagues. The idea that if you win the golden boot outside of the big leagues that it isnt as great a feat just isnt true. Like I said, the way the award is calculated makes it harder for players in the smaller leagues to win it (and obviously rightly so).

  • Comment number 63.

    I agree with SCL ..... Suarez was scoring for fun in Dutch league last year and deserved the golden boot .....

  • Comment number 64.

    For those of you that have said do not look at results over the last 5,10,30 or 50 years. I say do you know nothing about football?

    Cool I agree lets talk about results today. this season!

    S.C. Braga beat liverpool if the UEFA europa league; so clearly this means that Braga who finished 4th in portugal (a far less competative league than La Liga) is better than everyone in the premier league from 5th below. case closed!

  • Comment number 65.

    Bramwell gets my vote for a certified football guru ...
    NICE ..................

  • Comment number 66.

    Very good blog! - I think sometimes Ronaldo is unfairly compared to Messi. Personally, whilst Messi is an outstanding player. I believe Ronaldo is better. However, I think Messi is one of the few players in that Barcelona side who a simply 'football men' - It is very rare to see him complain, look to get people booked or even react badly to a poor tackle.

    Here's a blog, [http://markbritton7.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/fc-barcelona-mes-que-un-club-you-bet/] which looks at Barcelona in the fall out of El Classico (El Theatrico) a few weeks back. And if you're a Man Utd/Arsenal/Chelsea fan, I also suggest reading it! - Covers a lot of the bases which have seen failures from your sides in recent years against them. - Are they really THAT good as a side? Maybe not all true...

  • Comment number 67.

    The only league less competitive than La Liga is the SPL. When people say La Liga is the best league in the world they are having an absolute joke. If players want to prove they are the best player in the world, they HAVE to play in England, where they will play against good defences every (well most) weeks, i.e teams like Stoke and Fulham.

  • Comment number 68.

    Of course it's just one's opinion..Ronaldo,Messi..Barca,Madrid..La Liga,Premiership.
    As a Utd fan I had the great pleasure of seeing Ronny in the Red shirt for 6yrs and as Far as I am concerned the bloke is already one of the greats of the game.
    Yes, Messi is a better footballer..ball control,dribbling,passing,all better than Ronny...but the Ronaldo is better in the air,better shot with either foot,faster with the ball at his feet and has the ability to play either wing or centre forward and this makes him a better player.
    He came within a whisker of breaking Denis Law's goal record at Utd and is on the verge of creating history in Spain.
    Why not just enjoy what these 2 greats can do on the field and leave the arguments to the historians when they call it a day.

  • Comment number 69.

    I think the competition in Bundesliga is far superior than EPL for the sheer unpredictability. So according to the EPL Plaudits Bundesliga is the best league in the world................

  • Comment number 70.

    I see many people gettig their nickers in a twist because they fail to understand the difference between "quality" and "competitive".

    La Liga is undoubtedly a quality league, but certainly not the most competitive. The top two teams are just so far ahead of the rest in terms of consistency and depth. It does not mea that the teams finishing 3rd and lower are poor quality, but simply that they lack the strength in depth of the top two. Over the course of a long season this results in more points dropped.

    That is my opinion, anyhow, and I am sticking to it.

    Ronaldo and Messi are both fantastic players, and any team would be strengthened by their addition to the squad. Which player is "better" will always be debated, as it is a subjective rather than an objective choice.

    Ronaldo proved himself in England, and has proven himself in Spain. It amuses me how may English football fans, who support teams other than Manchester United, denegrated him when he was playing in England and now can't top talkig about how good he is.

    He was great when playing for United, and is still great when playing for Real. If he were not then Real would not have paid 80Mil for him. And, quite honestly, any team that turns down that kind of money for a single player is crazy, or seriously a 1 player team, and United have never been either.

    It wil be fantastic to watch the net seaso and see both Ronaldo and Messi continue playing at the amazing levels they have reached this season.

  • Comment number 71.

    As for my opinion, I would rank:
    1. L. Messi
    2. W. Rooney
    3. C. Ronaldo
    4. A. Iniesta
    5. X. Hernandez

  • Comment number 72.

    Anyone who wants to argue about which league is best just need to look at this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uefa_coefficient

    UEFA rank the Premier League as the best league in Europe and Man United as the best team.

  • Comment number 73.

    Its drivel to say the EPL is stronger than the La Liga Ive seen English teams struggle against La Liga also rans, like Villareal, Seville, Getafe, Valencia, and Athletico Madrid in European games.

  • Comment number 74.

    Messi is better than Maradonna - the Champions League is a better barometer of a great player than the World Cup. Messi's goal scoring record also puts Maradonna's in the shade.

  • Comment number 75.

    I do agree EPL is a better league than La Liga, Serie A & Bundesliga, but it is not that far ahead as many of you guys point out .....

  • Comment number 76.

    16. At 04:20am 19th May 2011, Football_UK wrote:
    @ 15, Liverpaul85,

    English fans will always remember the 'hand of god' incident but, if you look at facts, Maradona went to Napoli, a mediocre club in Italy and they won the title. Also, many would argue that he, alone, won the World Cup for Argentina.

    I like both Messi and Ronaldo but, when I remember Maradona's skills, I think both Messi and Ronaldo would simply live in his shadow.

    -----

    how many did he score in this world cup final he won then??????????

  • Comment number 77.

    I think anyone who thinks ronaldo is better needs to check their facts. the lad is a phenomenal player but he averages almost 10 shots per game this year where messi averages around 4. imagine how many goals messi would score if he was as selfish as ronaldo. he is as much a team player as an individual where as ronaldo has and always will play for himself. any striker may aswell retire if he was having 10 shots a game and not scoring at least once.

  • Comment number 78.

    77. At 08:55am 19th May 2011, antjk wrote:

    what astupid comment. He gets into the postions to shoot so it means he has created an opening or found space to receive a pass to then shoot.
    Hes scored over 50 goals so wouldnt bother me if he had 10 shots in a match.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    He might of scored lots of goals and he is well within his rights to shoot if there is a chance on but the amount of times that he takes a stupid shot from 30 or 40 yards is unbelievable and selfish,its not just at Madrid he is doin this he did it for years at utd!

  • Comment number 81.

    I don't understand all this criticism of Ronaldo. He has a powerful shot, much better than average and, I'm sure, if his manager wants a player to have shots, Ronaldo is his first preference.

    Do I smell jealousies around or is it just my idea?

  • Comment number 82.

    78. At 09:04am 19th May 2011, someoneshouldgetdownthereandexplaintheoffsiderule wrote:

    he just takes pot shots from all over. against spurs in champions league he had 14 shots in the first leg and only scored by virtue of poor goalkeeping and the same in the 2nd leg. he shoots at every opportunity irrelevant of position of himself or his team mates. at end of day what has his 50 goals got him? a nice personal accolade and a tin pot cup at the bottom of barca's list. messi has still got 1 goal more all in all, less games played, a league winner's medal and a champions league final to come. lets see what i would rather have....

  • Comment number 83.

    Barcelona
    Real Madrid
    Valencia
    Wigan x 17

  • Comment number 84.

    Anyone on here trying to argue that the Spanish League is just as competitive and full of quality of the Premier League is deluding themselves!!

    The numbers don't lie.....

    38pt difference between 1st and 5th in the Spanish League
    38pt difference between 1st and 19th in the Premier League

    The Spanish league is a two team league with little quality outside the top two. Therefore scoring 50 goals a season is much easier in Spain than it is in England, albeit the two players that have done it have exceptional quality.

    The Premier League is by far and away the best and most competitive league in the world. It's why so many people watch it.

  • Comment number 85.

    I wonder how most of you lot skipped this point. Messi is also the assist leader in the Spanish league with 18 assists. and that's despite playing with the best two midfielder in the world (Xavi and Iniesta), while Ronaldo has only 8!
    So if you count assists as goals. then Messi has a total of 31 (league goald) + 18 (assist) = 49
    and Ronaldo 38 (league goals) + 8 (assists) = 46
    another thing I need to point out to:
    Ronaldo's last 9 goals were scored in the last three matches. it draws a big line about consistency here. So to me, I think Messi has the capability to score when it really matters.

  • Comment number 86.

    The following is a list of the key matches that knocked premier league teams out the UEFA Europa League

    2008-2009
    Shaktar Donetsk 2-0 Tottenham
    CSKA Moskva 2-0 Aston Villa
    Hamburger 3-1 Manchester City

    2009-2010
    Sporting CP 3-0 Everton
    Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
    Atletico Madrid 2-1 Fullham

    2010-2011
    Dynamo Kyiv 2-0 Machester City
    SC Braga 1-0 Liverpool

    How long has it been since an English Team has won the Final of a UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup 10 Years!!! in fact it is a rarity that English Premier League Teams make it out of the Group Stage.

    This effectively means that the premier leagues mid/upper range teams have not been "competitive" enough to beat any of the leagues mid/upper range teams around the world (let alone La Liga which has won the Europa League 4 times in the last 10 years).

    Final point no one in this world should be saying that La Liga is less competitive than the English Premier League and vice versa. The Premier League is so amazing to watch, and the English propaganda machine does a very good job of saying your league is the best, for good reason. If they did not their would be a lot of bankrupt clubs out their; being that all the clubs in England spend more than they earn and are heavily reliant on that TV revenue.

    If you wish to intelligently debate any of these points or make your own, backing up your arguments with statistics then I'm happy to hear your point.

  • Comment number 87.

    @77, antjk is right, Ronaldo IS a selfish player. He plays for himself whereas Messi plays for the team.

  • Comment number 88.

    Ronaldo scored the opening goal in the Champions League Final for United in 2008.
    Scoring 51 goals for Real Madrid is arguably a FAR greater achievement then Messi scoring 50 for Barcelona. Why? Xavi and Iniesta are more established/better players then Ozil and Kadeira; [better passers of the ball, they create more chances etc], Plus, Barcelona have played together longer as a team and, Mourhino has managed RM for barely one year. To Not acknowledge these facts, suggests ignorance of the game, or worse. Which is it?

  • Comment number 89.

    Im sure his manager does want him to shoot when there is an opportunity of a goal, but also i don't think his manager would want him taking ridiculous shots from everywhere when he has a teammate in a better position to score

  • Comment number 90.

    @17 and 21

    Maradona only won one world cup. Mexico 86. In 78 he wasn't in the squad because he was considered too young.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 86, Bramwell,

    An other useful statistic in terms of quality of a league is its popularity, worldwide.

    The Premier League has 3 times revenue La Liga has, 5 times the revenue Bundesliga has and 10 times the revenue Serie A' has, when it comes to worldwide viewing of a league.

  • Comment number 92.

    Ronaldo is a wonderful player but he has the whole team as an 'unterman' to score more goals. they have no other 'goal' to fight for at the end of the season.


    but how many times won Ronaldo an IMPORTANT game with scoring 2-3-4 goals?? just this season Messi did that 4-6 times when Barcelona was unable to score or just get behind a defence.

    Messi's lethal efficiency is the reason Barca is the best team in the world. without him they would be much more average, maybe at the level of Real Madrid - and lose more...:-))

    Christiano still has to work a lot to reach the hights of Messi's.

  • Comment number 93.

    difference with these 2 is messi's 2nd goal at the bernabeu in CL semi. never see ronaldo score goals like that. people say ronaldo has more raw talent, i say he try's his little tricks a million times over practising day in day out where as messi he doesn't need to, it just happens at the right moment's and pull's out the slick when it's needed, which looks so much better than step over x 4 then pass it sideways. ronaldo is a goal machine but messi is that and so much more.

  • Comment number 94.

    The most amazing thing is how English Football fans think their league and team are the greatest despite facts showing otherwise.....Fact, english football does not hold a candle to Spanish, its nowhere near good enough....you look at europa and CL and in the last ten years only two english teams have won CL and they generally dont do well in the second tier european tournament.....Then there's the England national team which I'm guessing doesn't need discussion

  • Comment number 95.

    Football_UK I agree. The premier league is more popular thanks to its fantastic marketing.

  • Comment number 96.

    88miyah

    i dont know the stats but i'd bet messi scores more individual goals than ronaldo does. i may be wrong. it's become abit boring between these 2 as there's 1 who will become(imo) the best ever(although i think that now), and the other who score's bag loads but doesn't have that thing that makes u wana watch him. if u cant see it then im sorry you have that type of brain.

  • Comment number 97.

    The main differance between ronaldo and messi is that ronaldo has proved his worth over three different european leagues potugues liga with sporting lisbon
    barclays premier league with man u and la liga with madrid although we know what a class player messi he has never proven it out of that team and we dont talk a lot about ronaldos international achievements what about messi's when has he ever had sparkling performances for argentina ronaldo is the better player as he has proven it over different circumstances and i hope ronaldo can continue to develop and start winning trophys for madrid

  • Comment number 98.

    @noblefighter

    Why don't you give any examples of games "decided" by these two? Messi decided the first leg of the CL, Ronaldo decided the Copa del Rey final, both decided the second Classico, Messi decided the Bilbao game, the Arsenal game, the Atl. Madrid game, Ronaldo decided the Sociedad game, the Villareal game(s), the first Valencia game, the Milan game etc. etc. With this staggering amount of goals they BOTH decided lots of games.

    Why did Messi start taking penalties? Why did he start taking free-kicks? He got caught in this race, whatever you say. He is a cheeky little devil too, you know.

  • Comment number 99.

    I cannot believe how poorly written this blog is. Do you by any chance write it in Spanish then Google-translate it?

  • Comment number 100.

    @L_A

    Regarding the league, there's the UEFA coefficient, nuff said.

    But What does the national team have to do with this? And since when has Spain become a football powerhouse? Since 2008? What a joke. You do realize the were considered perennial chokers on the international stage before that? So this type of turnaround can happen to absolutely anybody. A lucky penalty shoot-out won here, a wasted one-on-one by the opposition there and gotcha! Easier said than done, but still..

 

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