It is perhaps fair to say that if we look at Ronaldo and Neymar, they had some mixed fortunes last season. Yes, you could say that Ronaldo was exceptional as always with Real Madrid, but at the end of the season he had no silverware to show for it. However, on the other hand Neymar was overshadowed by both Messi and Suarez to a certain extent, but walked away with medals galore.
So, when you have such contrasting seasons what should then be the expectations for the following season?
Ronaldo and season 2014/15
Even though it was disappointing from a medal perspective, it was still a season of personal highs with new records being broken for Ronaldo. Not only did he break into the top 10 all-time goalscorers in La Liga, but he also claimed the record for the most away goals for a Real Madrid player. He also became the fastest player to score 200 goals in La Liga with him achieving this feat in under 180 games and also set a new record for the most hat tricks in the league.
In other words, he was a goal scoring machine during the season, but even though he should look back at the last league campaign with a source of pride, he will undoubtedly be disappointed with the fact that it resulted in no trophies.
The problem for Real Madrid last season was that there were too many times where Ronaldo was really carrying the team himself. Bale had a poor season with the link up play between the two not really clicking in the way it did the season before. Benzema had a few injury problems, so there was a largely unsettled front line, and there were also a few defensive issues that led to a number of surprising defeats that really did manage to destroy their league season.
When it comes to La Liga, we are talking about such small margins between Real Madrid and Barcelona that the smallest slip up can lead to complete disaster when it comes to the league. They may have only finished two points behind Barcelona, but they lost more games over the season with 6 to their 4.
However, we can point to something rather interesting which shows the role that Ronaldo plays in the team.
Two of their losses came in the first three games of the season. They opened up with a victory against Cordoba, but then lost in consecutive games against Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid. The important point is that Ronaldo was still not really firing on all cylinders at that point after developing knee trouble, so the question now is whether or not that made a difference to the entire season.
So what is the hope for next season for Ronaldo? Well, he is clearly quite relaxed as his off the field life is going well, he has even had time to sign new deals including one with PokerStars, but the main thing for him is to stay fit and healthy because he is the undoubted lynch pin of the team.
He does also need the likes of Bale and Rodriguez to step up their game and give him the support he needs. It is almost impossible for him to do anything extra than he did last season as it would involve him smashing goal scoring records yet again, but who would bet against him not managing to do that?
Basically, it is out of his hands as to what happens next season. The one thing that Ronaldo is good at is taking care of himself and trying to maintain the extremely high standards that he has constantly set, and that is certainly something that will not change for the next few years.
Whether or not Real Madrid has any success will depend on the rest of the team and how they strengthen during the summer. At least they have one thing that is constant and that thing is Ronaldo and his amazing goalscoring talents.
Neymar and 2014/15
It is perhaps fair to say that people have been expecting Neymar to largely fail or trip up as there was a section of football fans that felt he would crumble to a certain extent when he moved from the relative safety of Brazil. It’s true that he was really protected there and of course that does not happen in Spain, but you could argue that Neymar has been a bit of a revelation.
This was seen as being the difficult second season for Neymar, but the stats do show that he performed better than perhaps many expected. For example, he did manage to score 39 goals, which in itself is pretty impressive and he also made a major breakthrough in the Champions League by scoring 10 goals to tie with both Messi and Ronaldo.
However, he did have a tough time in that both Messi and Suarez took more of the plaudits, whereas at Santos he was the main guy that everybody looked up to on a constant basis.
At the end of the day, he won every major medal since Barcelona swept the board with the league, cup, and of course the Champions League, so it could not be seen as being too much of a disappointment.
So, what about next season for Neymar? Well, there is a theory that the forward three of Neymar, Suarez, and Messi will gel even better, which is pretty amazing considering that between the three of them they scored 122 goals. There is also no reason to doubt that they will at least match that figure as they may not be the biggest of players in a physical sense, but their movements and footballing brains mark them out as being pretty special.
As with Ronaldo, Neymar is also busy signing sponsorship deals and the two of them are now sporting the PokerStars spade. It does appear to be the case that Neymar is well managed on that side of his career. However, when we look at what is going on with the actual football, then it is pretty clear what he needs to do next season.
First, he has to get over the personal disappointment of being sent off at the Copa America and then missing the rest of the tournament. As the Brazil captain there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and he will feel that he let his country down. It is important that he does not then allow that disappointment to seep through to his Barcelona form as he does play a key role in their forward line and Barcelona cannot afford for his form to dip.
He will also be looking at ways in which he can dominate more games in the way that Suarez appeared to do last season as he developed a reputation as being a real game changer with key strikes or assists. He undoubtedly has the skills, pace, and goalscoring ability and there is every reason to expect him to really begin to push even Messi himself due to his natural flair.
The one thing that we can be pretty sure of with Neymar is that he needs to try to match his goalscoring exploits of last season as Barcelona have a lot to live up to after winning the treble last season. Anything less than matching it will be seen as a failure and that is a lot of pressure to put on the team. They need everybody to stand up and be counted, so Neymar has to yet again show that his reputation as being one of the best players in the world is merited.