Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid has been THE derby over the last couple of seasons. It’s not just a Spanish derby anymore, it’s a European headliner. Last night was their fourth consecutive Champions League meeting, with Real maintaining a perfect record in the previous three. For Atletico, Lisbon was a tough pill to swallow but Milan was plain cruel. But they kept coming back, ‘Cholismo’ pulled them back. This time, they won’t be beaten. They were out to paint the capital red.
Cristiano Ronaldo Masterclass
There was one problem though, a flushed out 32-year-old. Who’s not as quick like he was a couple of years back. His performance graph has been erratic and statistically, he’s tumbling through his worst season. Players heavily dependent on pace and power tend to go through this phase when they are on the wrong side of 30, “legs don’t work like they used to before”. There’s a noticeable latency between mind and feet. And if I’m not wrong, this is exactly what Cristiano is going through. But as they say, life is all about reacting to challenges, and this is where Cristiano thrives. He’s a rebel. Instead of just accepting his fate, he trains, he adapts and he eats his doubters for dessert.
He scored his first just 10 minutes into the match, a perfectly timed header to direct Casemiro’s ill-fated volley. Some of the ‘Rojiblancos’ cried for offside, but as the replay clearly showed, he didn’t interrupt play when Ramos’ looping ball came in.
He later fizzled out for some time, but this isn’t the Cristiano of old; running tirelessly up and down the flanks. 2017 Cristiano knows his limitations, he knows there’s a livewire on the pitch in Asensio and an exciting Brazilian fullback to assist. His second came goal came in the 73rd minute after an ordinary Frenchman did extraordinarily well to retain the ball before setting up the best #7 in the world. A poised Cristiano picked his place and thundered the ball past a hopeless Jan Oblak. Real Madrid had a 2 goal lead, but Cristiano wanted more.
Lucas Vasquez was brought in for Karim Benzema and Cristiano was pushed to a more direct, #9-esque role. Asensio and Lucas were working tirelessly up and down the wings and Cristiano floated all over the middle as much he pleased. 5 to 90 and Cristiano picked up the ball in the middle of the park and charged down the right with Vasquez closely pursuing. He pushed the ball for Vasquez to chase and rushed in the zone. Lucas did exceptionally well to shrug defenders off before driving a low ball in for the Portuguese. Casemiro’s lay-off was exquisite and threw a couple of defenders off before Cristiano ruthlessly thumped in the 3rd. 3-0 the scoreline read. 8 goals in his last 3 games; 10 in 11 this season.
Cristiano complained about boos the other night. He begged them not to. Last night there were no jeers or whistles, only heartwarming Ronaldo chants.
It was a complete performance from the Los Blancos last night. They outclassed Simeone’s men in every conceivable way. Keylor Navas was comfortable throughout the night except for one Kevin Gameiro effort. Atletico Madrid didn’t have a grip on the game at any point of time and paid a hefty price. They’ll now have to win 4-0 at the Vincente Calderon to progress. But something tells me Zidane’s men won’t settle for anything less than another masterclass next week.