Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo once again came through for Real Madrid with a virtuoso performance against German side VfL Wolfsburg in the second leg of the two sides’ UEFA Champions League quarter final on Wednesday 13 April.
Real Madrid went to the match on a 0 – 2 deficit picked from the first leg in Germany and were staring at demotion from the Champions League, their realest chance of silverware in the season but Ronaldo really turned up in the game, netting the hat trick that turned the game on its head.
That coupled with results in the domestic league, lifted the gloom at the Santiago Bernabeu and after the game, it has emerged that the Spanish giants’ chance of success in Europe will be heavily hinged on Ronaldo being in fine form.
The first loss for Real Madrid in the Champions League, the 0 – 2 reverse against Wolfsburg, came on a day Ronaldo could just not get anything right. His shots on target were either too feeble to trouble the keeper or he mistimed runs and was flagged offside or slipped just before pulling the trigger.
It was not the same form he carried in the return leg and the form that has seen him score 16 goals already in the Champions League this term.
What stands out clearly is that Ronaldo’s goals in the season have been the key driver for Real Madrid, even when the team has struggled and heading to the Champions League semis, he will definitely prove crucial when his team takes on Manchester City.
He returns to the city that gave him a name – Manchester – and playing against his former team’s arch rivals will have him want to give more, not only to aid his team advance but to want to hurt the arch rival (assuming his earlier confession of loving Manchester United still stands).
However, in Manchester City, Ronaldo will find a different opponent; City are just gracing their first Champions League semi final in their history and will want to prove a thing or two.
Given they are starting at home, they will be looking to get an edge over the Spaniards.
Ronaldo will be facing a defence that has been shaky in domestic action but done well in Europe. He has the potential to unlock even the most compact of defences and heading to this match he will be looking to do it against a very determined team.
Apart from this being the first time for City in the semis, the Citizens are the only remaining English side and carry the hopes of a nation while a number of senior players as well as the manager know this is the last chance to leave a mark at the club as most will be leaving with the change in management that will see Pep Guardiola take charge next season.
Real Madrid, are gunning for a historic 11th title but they know very well that to get to the final to play either Atletico Madrid or Bayern Munich, they will have to negotiate through a tough Manchester City side that has grown tremendously in the tournament.
As they gun for the title, Ronaldo will also be gunning for his fifth top scorer’s accolade in Europe and to get it will mean he also drives the team.