UEFA Champions League: Ronaldo in another planet

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With Adebayo Olodan

But for Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo would have won the World Player of the Year award in the last 12 years. The Portuguese surely deserved all the accolades that have been coming his part since he debuted for Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.

CR 7 as the Portuguese captain is widely known has remained arguably the most consistent player in the world for over a decade now.  He is one player that has continued to prove that ‘form is temporary but class is permanent.’

On Tuesday, Ronaldo yet again proved that he is in a world of his own as he singlehandedly denied Atletico Madrid UEFA Champions League quarter-final ticket despite arriving Turin with a two-goal advantage.

Diego Simeone’s men won the first leg with two un-replied goals in the first leg in Madrid and if there is one team that has a mean and very tight defence across Europe, look no further than Atletico.  The team surely knows how to stifle the creativity of their opponents and they barely concede goals just as they hardly score many in matches too.

After the first leg, many pundits had expected Atletico Madrid to go through but Juventus has a big game changer in person of Ronaldo.  Scoring a hat trick against a water tight defence like Atletico is no mean feat in any competition.  In a match the confidence of Juvy fans appeared faded, CR 7 got the curtain raiser in the 28th minute and doubled the advantage in the 47th minute before completing his hat-trick from the spot with four minutes left to play. It was Ronaldo’s third goal that proved the final straw and with the goals, the Portuguese star retained his reputation as the bogey player of the Spanish club.

In 31 matches against Atletico Madrid, Ronaldo has scored no fewer than 25 goals which include four hat-tricks. He is also the first and only player to have scored a hat-trick for the Old Lady (Juventus) in the knock out stages of the Champions League.

Also, for the past five seasons, the Portuguese has been responsible for the defeat of Atletico in the competition.

For the records; in 2014, Atletico was knocked out by Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo.

2015 – The club was knocked out by Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo.

2016 – Atletico was knocked out by Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo.

2017 – The club was knocked out by Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo.

2018 – Atletico was knocked out by Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo

2019 –   The club was knocked out by Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo.

From the record above, Atlético Madrid is definitely familiar with CR 7; four years in a row, their Champions League campaigns came to an end against Real Madrid, defeated by Ronaldo: two finals, a semi-final, a quarter-final.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo with 63 goals in 77 matches has scored more knockout goals in the UEFA Champions League era than the next two players combined – Lionel Messi (40) and Thomas Muller (21).

Ronaldo is the Champions League’s all-time top scorer with 124, and there is more than that. Ronaldo without penalties is the Champions League’s second-top scorer. Ronaldo at Real Madrid alone is the Champions League’s fourth-top scorer. Only Leo Messi and Raúl have scored more Champions League goals than Ronaldo has scored in knockout rounds alone. He scored in the 2008 final (although he missed a penalty), in the 2014 final and twice in the 2017 final. In 2016 he scored the penalty in the shootout that won it.

Ronaldo won his fifth European Cup last season when Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the final.

There is no doubting the fact that Ronaldo is at the moment, the king of Europe who has normalised the abnormal.

Animal-like in intensity and absurd with his goals, the Juventus forward could take his tally of Champions League title to six at the end of the season.

Next time, Ronaldo might have to use two hands. At the end of the first leg against Atlético Madrid, he departed the Wanda Metropolitano raising his palm, repeating the message he had delivered on the pitch, ensuring that no one missed it.

In the centre of Turin there was a huge advertising board with a picture of him, which listed his records. It was a long list.

Even though he still has about five years to play football, Ronaldo is already a legend in the game.

When he eventually calls it quit in the round leather game, for many years his name will remain written in gold. It is always a pleasure to see Ronaldo playing for club and country.

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