Of all the adjectives that could’ve summarized Real Madrid’s rampant performance against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final, on Tuesday night, mesmerizing is the one that would describe it perfectly.
It was not just the Los Blancos’ cohesion that won them the crucial away fixture at the Juventus stadium in Turin, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s sublimity. The number seven led the charge with a double that seemed as forth-coming in the tie as the rising of the sun every morning.
Massimiliano Allegri opted to field a 4-4-2 and perhaps that was his biggest and only mistake on the night. The team’s defence were very culpable for both of Ronaldo’s goals and it looked as though they were skating on thin ice. With Barzagli and Chiellini both in the rear-guard, it’s surprising Real found it easy to get through.
It was not just a collective lapse in defense, which seemed to melt away further as the second-half progressed, that seemed haunting for Juventus fans. Paulo Dybala was not at his best at the start of today’s fixture. He was booked for diving and then he unnecessarily went into Cavajal with a high foot and thereby earning a second yellow in the game, leaving his team to play for 26-odd minutes with just 10 men.
Besides this, Juventus’ left hand side featuring the explosive Alex Sandro and Kwawdo Asamoah barely seemed able to offer the team a creative outlet on the left, as the Biancconeri searched for a break through.
But all the applause on the night went to Portugal’s captain, Ronaldo. The 33 year-old first opened his team’s account with a nifty right-foot finish past Gianluigi Buffon, before a stunning near four-foot high volley into the bottom left corner that left Buffon and world’s audience stunned. They would later rise in unison to applaud Ronaldo, as Ronaldinho’s effort had been by the Bernabeu faithful. What a goal, what a machine!
The hitman also set-up Real’s third goal, but what’s important here is to note than with 39 goals in 36 games, Ronaldo seems to be heading into his own stratosphere. He was unplayable on the night and with able deputies in Benzema and Isco, he may breach the 50-goal mark again this season. After becoming the only player ever to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games last evening, the sky is the limit for the Funchal-born icon, who is receiving adulaton from all corners of the football world for his stupendous effort.
A key highlight in the game was Keylor Navas’ brilliant save from Gonzalo Higuain in the first half that aided Madrid getting in keeping the score to their advantage. It must also be noted that he made another great save towards the end.
The dust may have settled, but the wind has well and truly blown all the advantage to the Spanish capital. Juventus will rue being able to stop the Ronaldo show again. Madrid have already grabbed eyeballs with a stellar performance. Now they will look to go the complete way to ift the trophy as well.