Cristiano Ronaldo is either the best player on the face of the earth or the second best. Which place you feel he holds can certainly be debated, but that he holds one of those two spots is inarguable. On Saturday, the Portuguese star scored five goals in a match against Espanyol, and in so doing passed Raul to become the top goalscorer in La Liga in Real Madrid history.
Ronaldo's five goal tally took him to 230 career league goals for Madrid, surpassing Raul's 228 scored between 1994 and 2010. It's an incredible accomplishment, especially when you consider the insane amount of talent with him in the upper reaches of Real Madrid's goalscoring charts. Raul. Alfredo Di Stefano. Carlos Cantillana. Hugo Sanchez. The list goes on, each name with tons of star power behind it. Now, in La Liga at least, Cristiano Ronaldo stands alone atop the mountain.
Ronaldo still has one last goalscoring hurdle to clear for Real Madrid, though. Raul still has a five-goal lead on him in Los Merengues' all-competitions scoring charts, with 323 compared to the 318 that Ronaldo has scored since making the Santiago Bernabeu his home in 2009. The incredible difference between the two isn't just the speed in years to reach their respective marks, but also in the matches played. Raul took 16 years and 550 league matches -- 741 across all competitions -- to accumulate his goal tally. Ronaldo? Just over six years and only 203 league matches, with another 100 in other competitions. Yes, Ronaldo has scored more than a goal a game on average during his Real Madrid career. That's astounding.
So on this momentous weekend, let's take a look back at some of the best goals Ronaldo has scored since joining Real Madrid. Before we get to the list, though, let's start off with his five goals against Espanyol on Saturday, the fourth of which broke the record.
As there often is from Ronaldo, there was some real quality in those goals. Want some more? Let's wind back the clock to some of his best with Real Madrid.
March 21st, 2012, vs. Osasuna
A spectacular long-range strike from one of the best in the business at them. This was Madrid's second goal of what wound up being a 5-1 win, and the first of two Ronaldo would score on the day.
August 7th, 2013, vs. Chelsea
Yes, sure, it's just the International Champions Cup. It's not a great competition. But still, that's a free kick hit on a rope that beat Petr Cech when he was at his absolute best.
August 29th, 2012, vs. Barcelona
Ronaldo has scored some amazing goals against Barcelona in his career, but this one might be the best of them all. that flick over his shoulder to put the ball into space, pulling the ball back down, and firing it through an impossibly small gap to score what wound up the winning goal for Madrid in the Spanish Supercup that year.
October 22nd, 2014, vs. Liverpool
There's a few impressive things going on with this goal. That give-and-go that saw him just blast his way through several Liverpool defenders, and then that casual-as-can-be flick with Martin Skrtel in his face that just happened to beat Liverpool's goalkeeper to the top corner are both just top-notch. That was also Ronaldo's first-ever goal at Anfield, having previously been held scoreless at Liverpool's home ground during his time at Manchester United. Always nice to break a duck like that.
May 4th, 2014, vs. Valencia
"OK, this ball is coming in at me and I'm not in a good position to do a volley or a scissor kick or a bike, so I'mma just turn around and stab my foot at it and see what happens. I feel good about this." That thought process won him goal of the season in La Liga that year. It's nice to be an elite athlete.
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We should close this out with just one more goal, though it's not one that Ronaldo scored with Real Madrid. No, this is the first professional goal he ever scored, way back in his Sporting Clube de Portugal days. Take it away, nostalgia!
Little did we know back then just what he was going to achieve. What a career.