The UEFA Champions League is without question the pinnacle of club competition and a playground for the world’s most talented footballers. ‘Cristiano el magnifico’ has lifted the famous trophy four times thus far and you’d be foolish to bet against him getting his hands on a 5th in the Ukrainian capital come May. His exquisite overhead kick in Turin last night left football fans right across the globe in awe and the Portuguese received a standing ovation from the Juventus supporters, an acknowledgement they’d just witnessed something remarkable from one of the greatest of all time. The debate around who is currently the best player in world football continues and just when you think you’ve finally made your mind up be it Ronaldo or Messi the other one raises the bar with something even more spectacular.
Quite frankly, it’s a debate I’m sick to death of. As football fans we are blessed to be able to watch these two artists simultaneously and in many ways they spur each other on to continuously deliver football of the highest quality. Such is the intensity at which they battle for the Ballon D’or each year neither would dare allow their standard to drop from fear of being outshone by the other. Thanks to advances in satellite TV and the fact the internet has made the world a much smaller place we never have to miss any of the magical moments and for that we should be grateful. That’s something our parents/grandparents couldn’t say during the days of Pele, Maradona and Cruyff. The consistency these two men display from one week to the next both in domestic and European competition is like nothing the world of football has ever seen. The game has certainly advanced both tactically and physically since the days of the aforementioned players therefore its becoming increasingly difficult for the traditionalists to dismiss Ronaldo or indeed Messi when discussing the greatest of all time.
You’ve probably seen the replay of Ronaldo’s overhead kick multiple times by now and the likelihood is you’ll see it repeated in Champions League highlight reels for years to come. The more I see it the more I’m impressed by his athleticism, the flawless technique and the audacity of the man, to try something as outrageous as that in a Champions League Quarter final requires an abundance of self-belief. Despite going behind inside 3 minutes Juventus responded relatively well, having a couple of penalty appeals waved away and Gonzalo Higuain forced an instinctive save from Keylor Navas in the first half. However, a goal of that caliber is enough to force even the most mentally resilient of sportsmen to throw in the towel and the Italian Champions fell apart.
Zizou’s reaction was priceless and with the tie effectively over the second leg will be nothing more than a formality. Sergio Ramos and Paulo Dybala will miss out next week through suspension but as we saw last night its Cristiano that calls the shots.
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