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Goal drought continues for Ronaldo, Suarez and Griezmann

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Goal drought continues for Ronaldo, Suarez and Griezmann

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By Richard Martin BARCELONA (Reuters) – Lionel Messi is out on his own at the top of the Liga scoring charts, well ahead of the usually prolific trio of Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo who all endured another frustrating weekend. Ronaldo is used to having an annual joust with Messi for the “Pichichi” prize for La Liga’s top scorer but has only netted once this season and was wasteful in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Las Palmas on Sunday. Barcelona’s Suarez, top scorer two seasons ago, extended his run without a goal to five games in all competitions following a lifeless display in the 2-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday as Paco Alcacer scored twice to keep Barca four points clear at the top. Griezmann, third in the Ballon d’Or last year, has only scored twice and had to face the ignominy of being substituted for defender Jose Gimenez while Atletico Madrid were being held to a goalless draw by Deportivo La Coruna, watching on as his side stole a 1-0 win in stoppage-time. Messi did not find the net either but the Argentine remains top of the scoring charts with 11 goals in 11 games. Below him are unfamiliar names. Valencia’s Simone Zaza is second with nine, Villarreal’s Cedric Bakambu is on eight and Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno and 21-year-old Antonio Sanabria of Real Betis have seven. Suarez is 22nd, Griezmann 37th and Ronaldo down at 70th. Ronaldo’s strike partner Karim Benzema has only scored two goals all season.

NO CELEBRATION Ronaldo did provide the cross for Isco to score Real’s third goal on Sunday but the assist could not lighten his mood and he looked thoroughly miserable as he neglected to join his team mates in celebration. “Cristiano goes home upset when he doesn’t score, but he makes a difference,” Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said in defence of his goal-starved team mate. “Cristiano and Karim will score goals soon enough. We don’t worry if they’ve only scored a few goals because they both make a difference and what matters is winning.” Atletico coach Diego Simeone avoided questions about Griezmann’s dip, saying it was positive that his side have taken 23 points during the striker’s drought. Barca coach Ernesto Valverde continued to back Suarez, repeating his message that he would be more concerned if the Uruguayan had not created chances. Suarez had only two efforts on goal against Sevilla. Suarez still appears to be struggling with a knee injury he suffered at the start of the season and which he rushed back from to help Uruguay qualify for the World Cup. He should benefit from being rested for this month’s friendlies against Poland and Austria, although he may also be suffering due to a change in Barca’s system since Neymar left and Ousmane Dembele got injured. “Luis Suarez remains Valverde’s biggest challenge. An urgent solution is needed,” wrote Ernest Folch, the editor of Barcelona-based newspaper Sport on Sunday. “Luis Suarez is a specialist, one of the great No. 9s in the game, a goal scorer…  Now he looks like he’s looking for his place in a team which has been forced to reconfigure itself.” (Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)
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