Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has gone from a desperate figure who had lost his way back in November to a goal-machine in the early part of 2018.
New year, new Cristiano
So far this year, he has proven himself to be the king of the scorers among the six major European leagues (Portugal added to the commonly quoted 'Big 5'). After his brace against Eibar on Saturday, his 17 official goals since the turn of the year have come at such a pace that even the likes of Atlético's Griezmann (14), Barça's Luis Suárez and Benfica's Jonas (both with 13), nor the trio of Messi, Neymar and Agüero, who all have 12, can keep up.
Despite his slow start across the first half of this campaign, Cristiano still wasn't far off being top scorer of the whole of 2017, finishing third with 53 goals behind Messi (54) and Harry Kane (56). But right now he is sitting back upon his perceived throne. His return to form has seen him score an average this year of 1.41 goals per game, and the main difference has come in the league. On 18 November 2017, he left the pitch after derby with only one goal still to his name in the competition. In 2018 he has already celebrated 14, and the ratio is only getting better for Los Blancos.
In his last five league appearances (Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Alavés, Getafe and Eibar) he has scored ten goals. Those, together with the three goals which extinguished PSG's Champions League hopes, have propelled the star on a trajectory that could help his club on another European dream. His nation will also hope it is prolonged to include the World Cup in Russia.
Pichichi: Cristiano on Messi's trail
It wasn't long ago that you'd get almost any odds you wanted from the bookmakers on Cristiano ending the Spanish season with the top scorer's award. Although Barça's Lionel Messi remains the favourite, his nemesis has, at least, put himself in with a shout.
In October, Messi was already 11 goals ahead, but now, with the difference just six (24 to 18) Cristiano can smell blood and history has shown us that he'll go hell-for-leather to catch him...