It’s not hard to see why he is so admired by the masses. For year after year, Cristiano Ronaldo has been on top of the world with his performances at Manchester United and Real Madrid. And in Tuesday evening’s Champions League second leg in Turin, the Portuguese superstar rose to the occasion once more.
After losing 2-0 away at Atletico Madrid, not many gave the Bianconeri much hope in qualifying for the quarter finals, especially giving Diego Simeone’s robust and relentless defensive solidity at the back. The Argentine manager has a reputation of seeing out wins and the ability to nullify other teams’ offensive weapons.
However, with Ronaldo one the opposition’s team, and his fantastic record against Atletico, it was only a matter of time before the floodgates were opened by the Portugal captain. It can be argued that Ronaldo is the best header of the football to ever play the game, and his opening two goals justify that.
The way the centre forward leaps in the air and maintains his hang time is nothing short of magnificent. In his opening goal, Diego Godin had no chance of matching his aerial height and rose above the Uruguayan to sneak the ball past Jan Oblak. For his second, Ronaldo’s movement in between the two central defenders allowed him some space to meet the ball in the air and just about get it over the line.
Ronaldo does not feel nerves and relishes high pressure situations. Time after time, he has come up trumps for Real Madrid, which is exactly why they have struggled so magnificently to uphold their own standards domestically and in Europe. Perhaps some at Los Blancos didn’t give as much credit to Ronaldo as they needed to.
If having won the Champions League five times throughout his career wasn’t enough, Ronaldo also has the most goals, assists, headed goals, home goals, away goals, free-kick goals and many other type of goals to his names. To put simply: Ronaldo is a machine that simply cannot be stopped in Europe.
There is not another footballer currently playing that has the same drive and devotion to his craft than Ronaldo, which is consistently being talked about by ex-teammates that have played with him throughout the years. The typical anecdotes of being the first one there and the last one to leave might seem endless, but that sacrifice is what has made Ronaldo the superstar he is today.
Whichever club Juventus are paired with in the quarter finals will know that, no matter the lead they have, it is going to always be an uphill battle when keeping Ronaldo quiet. Manchester United managed to do it in Turin under José Mourinho, but that was in a group stage game with little consequences. In a knockout format, Ronaldo raises his performances levels tenfold – only then is when you see the real player at work.
At 34 years old, it is clear that Ronaldo is slowing down somewhat and cherry picks his games, but Juventus are only after one thing that has eluded them for many years: the Champions League. There is no better player to deliver that than the Portugal international, who has already delivered an amazing comeback spectacle at the Allianz Stadium.