Cristiano Ronaldo has been pacing himself, skipping games that he would have normally played, and is peaking at just the right time.
Throughout his career, Cristiano Ronaldo’s success has always been compared to someone else’s. In the early days, when he started to catch the international eye at Manchester United, the question was whether he will ever be able to do what Luis Figo did in his career. This comparison existed only for a short while. Short enough for people to forget it ever existed, and for good reason.
For what came after that has polarised those who follow football for over a decade. Everything Ronaldo did was seen through the stencil of Lionel Messi’s achievements.
For a while, Ronaldo was left behind as Messi went about scoring goals and winning trophies at will. Then, he came right back into reckoning, breaking Messi’s streak of winning four Ballon d’Or’s in 2013. His mind numbing ability to score goals saw him lifting the trophy again. Many have now come to accept that comparing the two is a more futile exercise than just enjoying them.
Ronaldo was rested in several games recently, with coach Zinedine Zidane making sure he stayed fresh down the stretch. Madrid is still fighting with Barcelona for the title in the Spanish league, a competition is hasn’t won since 2012.
“I feel very good,” Ronaldo said Wednesday. “I’ve prepared myself to be in great shape in the final stages of the Spanish league and the Champions League. You also need to have a bit of luck as well, because I prepared myself and things have been going well, for me and for the team.”
Ronaldo has scored eight goals in the last three Champions League games. He also netted a hat trick in the second leg of the quarterfinals against Bayern, in addition to the two goals he scored in the first leg in Germany.
The hat trick on Tuesday was his seventh in the Champions League, leaving him with 103 goals in the competition. He is the only player to have broken the 100-goal mark.
“It’s great to have a player like Ronaldo,” Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos said. “You can defend well, you can control the midfield, but you still need someone to score the goals. He does that for us every time.”