Cristiano Ronaldo, we were told, is on the wane and losing the attributes that allow him to play football better than almost all other footballers, past or present. Well, the Portugal and Real Madrid captain gave another rebuff to his detractors yesterday in his relentless pursuit of enduring greatness. And goals.
A brilliantly efficient hat-trick against city rivals Atletico, with Ronaldo outshining everyone else on the pitch, all but booked Real’s place in the Champions League final. Barring a shock comeback next week, the Merengues will be in the final in Cardiff and 90 minutes away from becoming the first team in the modern era to retain the world’s greatest club prize.
It is impossible not to be awestruck by Ronaldo’s unremitting level of excellence, and it should come as no surprise that the Madeira-born superstar is busily making fools of those who doubt him. His whole career can be charted by his smashing of the naysayers’ myths.
“Just a showpony”
Turning up at Manchester United as a scrawny 18-year-old, his good looks, penchant for stepovers, tendency to go to ground too easily and perceived cockiness quickly earned him a legion of ill-wishers.
No bother, 196 appearances, 84 goals, 3 Premier League titles, 1 Champions League trophy and a host of domestic cups later, Ronaldo left England’s shores having proved himself as the greatest player to have graced the Premier League.
“Doesn’t do it in big games”
At Real Madrid his goalscoring reached a brazenly stupid level of consistency, hitting 50+ goals over six successive seasons. “But he doesn’t do it in the big games; he’s a flat-track bully,” bleated his critics.
No bother, Ronaldo became the first player to score in six consecutive classicos, Barcelona is one of his favourite victims (16 goals and counting), including the match-winning goal in the decisive match at the Camp Nou in 2011/12 to help Mourinho’s Madrid team beat what is widely mooted as the best ever club side to the La Liga title that season. His big-game goals at club and international level are too plentiful to list here. Ronaldo rendered perpetrators of this argument foolish long before the 8 goals in crunch Champions League matches against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in recent weeks.
“Can’t be one of the greats until winning an international tournament”
This argument, citing the achievements of Pele and Maradona, purported that unless a player “proved himself” by leading his country to international glory, he could never belong to the pantheon of the all-time greats of the beautiful game. (By this curious logic, if you have the misfortune to be born in a country whose size or football culture does not allow it to prosper in major tournaments… tough luck.)
No bother, Ronaldo led his country to its first ever international trophy last summer, scoring or assisting 66% of Portugal’s goals at Euro 2016. Despite being forced off early in the final through injury, it is an irrefutable truth that had Ronaldo not been representing his nation in France one year ago, Portugal would not be the reigning European Champions today.
Ronaldo’s intense focus on the right training and the right lifestyle to fully harness his God-given talent, to perfectly condition his physique and to foster his burning ambition is well-documented. What is less discussed but of equal importance is his football intelligence.
Former Manchester United teammate Gary Neville, an adamant champion of Ronaldo’s status in the history of football, tells the story of when Ronaldo was sprint training but not going at it full-pelt in his Old Trafford days. “Too much water kills the plant,” was the Portuguese’s response when called out for momentarily dropping his level of intensity.
At yesterday’s post-match press conference, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane spoke about Ronaldo’s intelligence in managing his energy levels. The very evolution of CR7 from a swashbuckling marauding winger to a lethal penalty box predator is a perfect example of how Ronaldo has got to where he is today by using his brain, as much as his body.
It’s no surprise that Ronaldo’s influence has led Madrid to be rated as favourites to win the Champions League by the bookies. With most bookmakers backing Madrid at 4/5 to win the competition outright, this £200 cash bonus promotion at Bonus Codes may be worth looking into. In any case, Ronaldo would be the ideal man to break the formidable Juventus defence should the bookies’ second most fancied side make it to the final.
Ronaldo has spent his whole career beating down his detractors with his sheer weight of achievement. He now seems intent on beating nature.
It's not enough! Cristiano Ronaldo says he wants to score ANOTHER 400 goals ⯑⚽️ pic.twitter.com/Or05fuip5l— Freebets.co.uk (@freebetscouk) May 3, 2017
By Tom Kundert