Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson believes the only way to stop Cristiano Ronaldo is to make sure the Real Madrid star does not get anywhere near the ball.
The 33-year-old endured a somewhat difficult start to the 2017-18 campaign, but really sprung to life in the second half of the season as he guided Madrid to the Champions League final with a string of sublime performances.
Ronaldo has netted 44 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions heading into Saturday’s final, with 15 of those strikes coming in European competition.
The attacker particularly impressed in the quarter-final win over Juventus with a stunning bicycle kick goal and he will be looking to add to his tally in Kiev.
Nevertheless, Lawrenson is hopeful Liverpool can isolate the former Manchester United star to keep him quiet.
“Stop Ronaldo from getting the ball, I think that’s the way to stop him,” Lawrenson told Goal. “I think Madrid are probably like Liverpool with [Mohamed] Salah. In that, if he doesn’t get a supply line then there is not a lot he can do without the ball.
"Definitely with Ronaldo, I think the team is built around him. It is all about him. He does not wander between the centre backs or chase centre backs to get the ball off them. They just tell him to stay there and it is up to us to get the ball to you and then you do your bit. Whereas, Salah, [Robert] Firmino and [Sadio] Mane all work really hard in trying to get the ball back. Ronaldo is a little bit fortunate. He has just been sensational.”
Whereas Ronaldo has been performing at the highest level for nearly a decade now, Liverpool talisman Salah has yet to prove he can mirror such consistency and Lawrenson believes the Egypt international still has some way to go before he reaches the same level.
Cristiano Ronaldo continues confounding pundits, as he gets better & better...
Mark Lawrenson is a Paddy Power ambassador, to read more go to https://t.co/HUkamu1Rb9 pic.twitter.com/8GJ5Me6AjY — Goal (@goal) 25 May 2018
“People have been comparing Ronaldo and Salah, but you cannot compare the two,” he added. “As good as Salah has been, I think [Jurgen] Klopp said it the other week, he has got a bit to go yet.
“Ronaldo has been doing it for five to 10 years. He has done it at the highest level. I kind of thought that this year might be when he starts to drop but it has just not been the case. I think when you look at Ronaldo, he is physically fit in the way he looks after himself. He is unbelievably good in the air, we never really saw that at Manchester United.
“I would like to think he is just on the wane now, but I don’t think he is. I am told that at Man United, he stayed behind every day and practiced everything. Obviously that hard work has paid off for him.”
Mark Lawrenson is a Paddy Power ambassador, to read more go to news.paddypower.com