Posts Tagged ‘ Cristiano Ronaldo ’

Ronaldo Must Be at His Best for Real Madrid to Beat Borussia Dortmund

Ronaldo Celebrating

 

When Real Madrid faces Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semifinals, you might think that the Spanish side is the prohibitive favorite to advance to the final.

You would be incorrect, I’m afraid.

Borussia Dortmund still hasn’t lost a single game in this year’s Champions League, beat Los Blancos 2-1 in Germany during the group stage in November and tied them 2-2 in Madrid two weeks later, after Mesut Ozil tied the game for Real Madrid in the 89th minute. For that reason, it will be up to Cristiano Ronaldo to lead his side to victory.

Again.

It may seem obvious that Ronaldo must be on his form against Dortmund, but generally Los Blancos have enough talent to beat opponents even if he isn’t the man of the match. Against Dortmund, I’m not so sure that’s the case.

While Bayern Munich has already wrapped up Bundesliga, Dortmund has lost just once in all competitions since the beginning of March and has proven to be one of the elite sides in Europe this season. Players like Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski would start for most clubs in the world.

Plus, Dortmund has the look of a charmed team after scoring two goals in stoppage time against Malaga to advance to the semifinals. Sometimes, nothing in sports is more insurmountable than a team with a bit of luck on its side.

And seeing as they would have moved forward on aggregate had the team’s group stage meeting been a semifinal, some folks might even consider Dortmund the favorites.

Real Madrid is the more popular squad, however, so it’s no surprise that over at Bovada Los Blancos are considered the favorites to reach the final. The fact that Ronaldo is the best player in the game might alone be the reason Real Madrid is favored.

And Ronaldo will have to play like the best player. He’s once again having an epic season, with 50 goals and seven assists in all competitions for Los Blancos. He’s been particularly dangerous of late, scoring in seven straight games for Real Madrid (with nine goals during that time).

With a league title pretty much out of the question at this point, winning a Champions League title is now the top priority for Real Madrid. And you have to think Ronaldo would like nothing more than leading his team to that title rather than seeing it go to Lionel Messi and Barcelona.

Not that it’s a given that Barca can get past Bayern Munich, of course. In fact, I think it’s the German side that will win that tie, but that’s just me.

In the end, must like Messi must come up huge for Barca against Bayern Munich, Ronaldo must be at his very best against Dortmund. Barcelona and Real Madrid might be considered the top superpowers in European football, but these German sides are the real deal and aren’t about to be intimidated.

Real Madrid vs Levante LaLiga Preview: Merengues out to notch seventh straight home Liga win

Ronaldo Celebrating

 

Real Madrid have a full squad to choose from for Saturday’s Primera Division encounter with Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Boss Jose Mourinho is likely to make changes to the side to conserve energy for the midweek Champions League trip to Istanbul to face Galatasaray, with Alvaro Arbeloa, Marcelo, Pepe and Kaka all in line for recalls.

Midfielder Valdo has recovered from a knee injury and is poised to start on the bench for Levante.

David Navarro is suspended but Sergio Ballesteros, Pedro Lopez and Nabil El Zhar all return after serving one-match bans.

  • Real Madrid have won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions.
  • The Castilian giants have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight outings in La Liga.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo  has scored 106 goals in 94 appearances for Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
  • Levante ended a seven-match winless run in La Liga with a 1-0 home win over Sevilla.
  • Los Granotes have lost their last four away encounters against Madrid by an aggregate score of 19-4.
  • Levante’s last win at the Bernabeu was a 1-0 success in February 2007.

Cristiano Ronaldo Can Power Real Madrid to UEFA Champions League Title

Ronaldo Celebrating

 

Real Madrid hasn’t hoisted the European Cup in over 10 years, but superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to change that as he’s poised to lead Los Blancos to their 10th UEFA Champions League title in 2013.

Never mind the debate over who the best player in the world is—Ronaldo is the best player for Real Madrid. Following his sensational ninth-minute goal against Galatasaray in the first leg of Madrid’s quarterfinal tie with the Turkish club on Wednesday, it seems losing is no longer an option for Ronaldo, as Madrid is now unbeaten in its last 11 matches, dating back to early February.

Ronaldo’s early goal also extends his UEFA Champions League goal streak to four straight matches.

As far as the squad is concerned, Madrid looks like a safe lock for the semifinals, barring an away collapse next week. Ronaldo and company lead comfortably on aggregate and will advance to the next stage even with a 2-0 defeat on April 9.

But the better news for Madrid supporters is that Ronaldo is firing on all cylinders heading into the most critical stages of the UEFA Champions League.

If his match-winner at Old Trafford last month wasn’t enough to prove it, his electrifying go-ahead goal at Bernabeu certainly serves as overwhelming evidence that the 28-year-old forward is in his physical and mental prime.

Plus, Madrid currently has rival Barcelona’s number, having defeated Barca three times out of the two clubs’ last five meetings and earning draws in the other two. Barca is one of the favorites to reach the semifinals and perhaps the UEFA Champions League final in May.

Ronaldo certainly wouldn’t mind matching up again with the world’s top player in Lionel Messi, especially considering he has scored a combined five goals in Madrid’s last five meetings with Barca.

Other contenders like Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich pose threats to Real Madrid, sure, but neither club possesses an individual go-to talent quite like Ronaldo. Dortmund gave Madrid problems in the group stage earlier this season, but was severely out-shot (36-23) and out-possessed (61-39 percent on average) in two meetings. Surely Madrid will love its chances going up against them again in a potential knockout stage.

As for Bayern, winning the UEFA Champions League has proven nearly impossible as of late. The German powerhouse has finished as runner-up in two of the past three years, scoring just one goal in two final defeats in 2010 and 2012.

The difference?

Bayern lacks a go-to talent like Ronaldo—a player that not only rises above the pressure match after match, but also often delivers in the biggest moments.

Cristiano Ronaldo is surging right now, playing some of the best football of his career, and so is Real Madrid. Behind the strength of that superstar talent, Los Blancos are the hands-down favorite to hoist the UEFA Champions League crown next month.

Ronaldo Will Be Difference vs. Manchester United in Champions League

Ronaldo

 

Cristiano Ronaldo will mark his return to Old Trafford against Manchester United with a performance for the ages.

Real Madrid’s match with the Red Devils in the Champions League this Tuesday marks the Portuguese winger’s first match in the Theatre of Dreams since leaving United after the 2008/09 season. Ronaldo was one of the best players in the world before moving from the Santiago Bernabeu. In the four seasons since, he’s still managed to take a Herculean leap in his career, scoring 136 goals in 126 La Liga matches and 30 goals in 35 Champions League matches.

This season has been no different. Despite Madrid’s rather pedestrian—at least by their standards—league campaign, Ronaldo has been the engine for Los Blancos’ attack and maintained his insanely high level of production.

February’s 1-1 draw could be considered a bit of a letdown for Real Madrid as that away goal could prove crucial for the Red Devils. With quite a bit of pressure on, Ronaldo will be the one to step up and carry Los Blancos on to victory.

The Red Devils are in a bit of a tricky position. That away goal is a nice comfort, but it doesn’t offer all that much security. United can’t afford to simply sit back for most of the match and let Madrid come at them. The club will need at least another goal if it has any hope of getting to the next round.

That strategy has worked this year against Madrid, but the Champions League is a much different beast from La Liga play.

On the other hand, Sir Alex Ferguson also can’t afford to simply throw attackers forward because Madrid is arguably the best counter-attacking team in the world. With the speed Los Blancos have, they can turn almost any move from defense to attack in a heartbeat.

It’s on the counter that Ronaldo will be his most effective. He’s one of the fastest players in the world and will be able to exploit whatever space is given to him.

There are so many ways that Ronaldo can score that you can try almost every way to stop him, and it still won’t work. His headed goal against United in the first leg two weeks ago was magnificent. It just illustrated the freakish athletic ability of Ronaldo and how skilled a header he is.

Playing in Old Trafford again might bring up some good memories and make Ronaldo a bit emotional, but it’s not going to hold back his play on the pitch. If anything, it could provide the kind of impetus needed for the winger to take this tie over.

Rafael has been a very good right-back at times, yet has also shown some signs of letting the match get away from him and losing his head. Regardless of the Brazilian’s ability, there isn’t a single defender on the planet who can stop Ronaldo. Ferguson will have to deploy either Phil Jones or Michael Carrick as cover to help defend.

In the end, it won’t be enough as Ronaldo is simply too skilled to be reigned in.

Ronaldo Will Prove Unstoppable in 2013 Copa Del Rey Final

Ronaldo pumped

 

Cristiano Ronaldo fired Real Madrid into the 2013 Copa del Rey final with a dominant brace against Barcelona’s defense, and he will prove unstoppable once again when the final against Atletico Madrid actually takes place at the end of the 2012-13 season.

The superstar winger has simply been in blistering form for several years now really, and is the heart and soul of Los Blancos’ attack. He is their go-to player, their match-winner and their difference-maker—plus every other phrase or metaphor you could ever think of in relation to his importance. It’s probably a bit far to suggest that Ronaldo is Real Madrid, but the truth is he’s their most significant part, and he’ll prove that in the final this year as well.

When Madrid played their cross-town rivals earlier in the year, it was Los Blancos who emerged with a 2-0 victory—thanks to the brilliance of Ronaldo.

The Portuguese winger netted the opening goal of the match with an absolutely delightful free kick, and continued his attacking dominance throughout the match. He would set up Madrid’s second goal for Mesut Ozil and hit the post two other times during the match—scoring a phenomenal perfect 10 on WhoScored’s match rating scale, which certainly isn’t an easy feat to do.

 

Madrid simply had no answer on either flank for Ronaldo, and they’ll likely have the same thing happen to them in the final, given the form the winger is in. Domestically, Ronaldo has netted 24 goals and five assists from as many 23 appearances.

he fact that this is a final should also strike fear into the minds of Atletico Madrid, with Ronaldo possessing an incredible record in finals. His lone final for Madrid saw him score the only goal in a Copa del Rey winning match against Barcelona in 2011—something that Atletico will no doubt be wanting to avoid in the 2013 version of that match.

Ronaldo has also won five other finals in his career—scoring in three of them—and will look to build on that record with a strong showing this time around.

Judging on what we’ve seen so far this year, you’d expect nothing else from the Portuguese international and his dynamic finishing ability.

Atletico Madrid won’t be able to come up with an answer to him here, much like they couldn’t when they met earlier in the season and much like Barcelona couldn’t when they played in the Copa del Rey semifinals. And without an answer, Ronaldo will thrive, and Real Madrid will win.

4 Things We Learned from El Clasico

Lionel Messi Is Tired

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey - Semi Final Second LegYou can’t play 50-plus games per season, never mind international matches, and expect to retain a consistently high level of play—especially when the bar is set as high as it is for Lionel Messi.

The Argentine maestro has appeared visibly tired in recent matches (he was a shadow of himself against AC Milan in the Champions League last week) and was rubbed off the ball with relative ease on several occasions on Tuesday.

With Barcelona having all but locked up the Primera Division title, look for Messi to be given some extra nights off during the stretch run, although by then it could be too late for the Catalans’ European ambitions.

 

Barcelona Struggle When Faced with Aggressive Man-Marking

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey - Semi Final Second LegWe saw it against AC Milan last week, and again against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

When the opposition comes out and aggressively man-marks the Barcelona players, the Catalan giants tend to struggle.

Against Milan at the San Siro it was Stephan El Shaarawy sticking like glue to Dani Alves; against Madrid at Camp Nou it was Cristiano Ronaldo keeping track of Alves and Alvaro Arbeloa running up and down the opposite flank alongside Jordi Alba.

If you take Barcelona’s full-backs out of the game you take their width away. And while it requires incredible concentration to adhere to marking assignments, when executed properly Barcelona can be dealt with considerably more easily.

Possession Stats Are Pretty Much Meaningless

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey - Semi Final Second LegOnce again Barcelona saw the majority of the ball, and once again all their position came to nothing.

At the halftime whistle the hosts were judged to have enjoyed upwards of 65 percent possession, and yet they not only trailed by a goal but had created very little.

While perimeter passing inflates the much-ballyhooed possession statistic, it doesn’t mean much. When Madrid were on the ball they tended to be quicker and more intentional in their passing, and it paid off, in particular with Ronaldo’s second of the night following an effective counterattack.

 

 

Ronaldo Is Better Than Messi (in Clasico Matches)

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey - Semi Final Second LegWhen Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring after 13 minutes in Barcelona, he became the first player ever to score in seven successive Clasico contests. The goal, which gave Real Madrid the 2-1 lead on aggregate, was also his sixth in six matches at Camp Nou and 39th in 40 matches in all competitions so far this season.

His second of the night, scored in the 57th minute, pretty much finished off the tie.

Lionel Messi, by comparison, came into Tuesday’s match with just three goals in his last seven Clasico appearances, but with 49 goals in 39 matches in all competitions he has a healthy scoring lead over Ronaldo.

But Ronaldo’s reputation as a big-game player continues to grow with every big game he plays. It’s hard to believe he was once considered a player who wilted under pressure.

In addition to scoring against Manchester United in the first leg of this season’s Champions League Round of 16, he almost single-handedly guided Portugal into the quarterfinals of the 2012 European Championship. And in 2008, he scored in the Champions League final against Chelsea.

And then, of course, there is his record in El Clasico.

 

Ronaldo needs a new partner or Real Madrid may never reach the promised land

Ronaldo jumping

 

The story was a familiar one: Real Madrid conceded from a set piece, then Cristiano Ronaldo did something brilliant. Two moments that sum up a season in which Jose Mourinho’s men have been below their brilliant best. And versus Manchester United, as against many others in 2012-13, it was their failure to convert chances which cost Los Blancos. Cristiano cannot do it all on his own.

Angel Di Maria dribbled, Mesut Ozil opened spaces, Ronaldo roamed. But aside from the magnificent Portuguese, nobody seemed to shoot straight for the home side on Wednesday. Madrid’s 28 efforts in an exhilarating encounter should have brought more than a single goal – Cristiano’s towering header after half an hour.

The strike itself was a carbon copy of Ronaldo’s stunning winner in the 2011 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona at Mestalla. Then, as on Wednesday, Di Maria launched a brilliant inswinging cross from the left touchline to the far post, where the Portuguese rose majestically to hammer home a header which not even Man of the Match David De Gea could stop. It was a magical moment, yet one which surprised no-one – least of all Sir Alex Ferguson. “What a header. Unbelievable. You can’t stop that,” the 71-year-old said after the game. “The spring, the way he holds himself in the air, the power in the header. I said to Patrice Evra at half-time, ‘you didn’t challenge for that’. And when I saw the video I thought, what was I talking about?”

“When he gets the ball, you are praying more than anything,” Ferguson added about Ronaldo. But after a first half in which the Portuguese threatened to run rampant, United’s defenders got closer to their former team-mate after the interval. Others, however, were afforded more time and space in and around the penalty area by the visitors. But unfortunately for Madrid, none were able to make it count.

Sami Khedira wasted a wonderful opportunity early on, while Di Maria played his best game in some time but was erratic with his shooting, Ozil dallied on a number of occasions and Karim Benzema was dispossessed far too easily. His replacement, Gonzalo Higuain, was unable to take up promising positions, either, so it was left – as is so often the case – to Ronaldo.

Madrid have come to rely upon their talisman in games like this one, and against Barcelona in the Clasico – but the Portuguese cannot do it all alone. He needs a new partner.

Ozil and Luka Modric score very few, while Jose Callejon has looked lacklustre of late, Kaka is out of favour and the strikers – so impressive in 2011-12 – are simply not scoring sufficiently this term.

Former Madrid player, coach and sporting director Jorge Valdano criticised Mourinho last week for his man-management of both Higuain and Benzema, claiming the two strikers are demoralised because neither feels like the first-choice frontman in the team’s 4-2-3-1 formation. The truth, however, is that neither deserves to be – at least on current form.

In the very big games, Madrid need a man who will rise to the occasion like Ronaldo is now doing on a regular basis. Like Didier Drogba did for Chelsea, Samuel Eto’o for Barcelona, Thierry Henry at Arsenal or, currently, Radamel Falcao at Atletico.

Madrid have a ‘non-aggression pact’ with their city rivals, but they would love to sign Falcao or a forward of the Colombian’s calibre.
Mourinho has been keen to bring in a top-class striker since the very beginning at Madrid, but Benzema and Higuain are already among the finest forwards in world football. If a new man is brought in, he must be one of the very best – better than what they have already.

So while negotiating a contract extension for 183-goal Ronaldo (in terms of ratio, the greatest goalscorer in the club’s history) must be a priority for Real Madrid this summer, a new partner for the Portuguese should sit second on their to-do list in the next window. Because without one, the promised land of La Decima may remain nothing but a distant dream for many more years to come.