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Cristiano Ronaldo & Bruno Fernandes go head-to-head in battle for penalties & freekicks: Analysing the best kickers

Cristiano Ronaldo has superior free kick stats to Bruno Fernandes but Fernandes has a 93% penalty success rate compared to Ronaldo's 83%. However, Ronaldo might be the designated penalty taker while Bruno Fernandes takes the freekicks. Here's why.

Cristiano Ronaldo & Bruno Fernandes go head-to-head in battle for penalties & freekicks: Analysing the best kickers

As Cristiano Ronaldo prepares for his debut at Manchester United this weekend, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also has a big decision to make. His United side won a lot of penalties last season, and Bruno Fernandes was duly on hand to dispatch, only missing one all season against Newcastle United in November 2020. A replay of that fixture is coming up this weekend and not much has changed, barring the return of Ronaldo to Manchester United. Now, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has two excellent set-piece takers in his squad and he must decide on who takes the penalties and/or the free kicks. 

Both Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo play strong claims to the honour due to their impressive records. Since his move to United in January 2020, Bruno Fernandes has taken 22 spot-kicks and scored 21 of them. This is an incredible 95.5% success rate at Manchester United. In his overall career spanning Sporting Lisbon, Portugal and Manchester United; Bruno Fernandes has taken 44 penalties, scoring 41 and losing 3. This comes in at an impressive 93% success rate. Such numbers give Fernandes confidence that he should be the designated player to take penalties. 

5-time Ballon d'Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo is also a very accomplished player. Having been chosen as the designated penalty and free-kick taker in all the teams he has played in from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United to Real Madrid and at Juventus. In all competitions and teams, the 36-year-old forward has a penalty success rate of 83%, scoring 139 out of the 166 penalties he has taken so far. Though this is a lower success rate to Bruno Fernandes, it is important to note that Ronaldo has taken almost 4 times the penalties Fernandes has taken and possibly in more difficult matches also. 

In the free-kicks department, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored a total of 57 free kicks goals all through his career with club and country. The 5-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored 47 free kicks goals for his club side and 10 for Portugal, with an overall conversion rate of 5.9%. Bruno Fernandes on his part has scored 9 free-kick goals all his club career. From these stats, it is clear that Cristiano Ronaldo is the better free-kick taker. 

Going by this information, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might be tempted to award both penalty and free-kick duties to Cristiano Ronaldo but that might be a wrong move. In 69 free-kick attempts at Juventus, Ronaldo scored just once, pointing to a decline in his abilities with free kicks. Bruno Fernandes meanwhile has scored 8 of his 9 free-kick goals in the past 2 years. Thus, the likely scenario would be that Cristiano Ronaldo is chosen as the penalty taker for Manchester United while Bruno Fernandes would retain his free-kick duties at Manchester United.

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