Jose Mourinho’s powerful Real Madrid side were brutally humiliated 4-1 at Signal Iduna Park by Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday evening in the Champions League semi-finals.
The logical explication for such a result would be based on Dortmund’s extraordinary boost of confidence following Bayern Munich’s merciless 4-0 victory over Barcelona at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.
When analysed more thoroughly, though, the outcome of Madrid’s first-leg game in the semis just proves to be the result of a few vital missteps.
Wrong positioning and weakness in defence, precipitated movements upfront, as well as lack of tranquility in their display, is certainly what made the Copa del Rey finalists pay the price.
Hence, having already had to forget about La Liga title long ago this season, it now looks as if Real Madrid simply have the Spanish Cup to focus on, since their Champions League hopes have also been diminished.
In view of that, Los Blancos’ season could eventually look less bright than it appeared to be a few weeks ago, when winning the double was still very much a possibility.
But upon the speculations surrounding Madrid’s success this season, it is clear that the entire situation from Cristiano Ronaldo’s perspective has become more complex.
The iconic No. 7 winger has been phenomenal the whole of this season. His detractors would be happy to remind him of his shocking own goal against Granada in La Liga early in February this year but, still, not even that blunder is enough to cancel the fact that Ronaldo has been mostly consistent this season.
With 31 goals in the league, Ronaldo has yet to stop proving to the world that he is still evolving as a player. While his heading skills have been further accentuated lately, the Portuguese winger has also earned a string of daring attainments.
A couple of goals against Barcelona in his last Clasico appearances, followed by a series of great performances in the Champions League against former club Manchester United and Galatasaray, appear to be key elements to Ronaldo’s progress towards the distant 2013 Ballon d’Or award.
Nonetheless, it seems a sequence of esteemed individual achievements — unsupported by the Champions League title — will not be enough for the former Premier League player to cement his position as this season’s best player.
In this case, nevertheless, this can only be due to one failure: the failure of obliging Borussia Dortmund to submit to his power.
However, it is well accepted by all of us that virtually no player can single-handedly impose his supremacy on an entire team – especially not a team with the capacity of Dortmund.
Thus, this takes us to two questions: Did Ronaldo perform at his very best against Borussia Dortmund? Were his contributions good enough to help his team survive?
Debatably, the answer to both questions is “no”. Yet, this surely does not mean that Ronaldo was disappointing on the night.
In fact, a good first-half performance, bucked by a bullet free-kick on target on 24 minutes, just shows how promising Ronaldo’s presence on the field was in the early stages of the match.
Indeed, the effects did not take too long to come, when a mistake in the Dortmund defence allowed the 2008 Ballon d’Or winner to tap the ball into an empty net just before half time.
That late first-period goal obviously made many Madrid fans believe that Ronaldo would come back for more goals after the restart. That was not the case, and an overshadowed Ronaldo somehow proved harmless in the first minutes of the second period.
Excruciatingly, though, that short moment of silence from the Portuguese happened to be just what Borussia Dortmund needed to add two more goals to their tally.
Ronaldo did show some determination as the game went on, but his efforts and attempts simply did not produce much. Overall, it was definitely not a bad match for the superstar; but errors in the defence - both from his team-mates and his coach - forced him to succumb to a humbling 4-1 defeat.
Now, if Ronaldo does not reach the Champions League final this year, his chances of finishing this season on a high would be radically fissured, despite all the marvellous hard work he did throughout the term.
For his fans, seeing him suffer the consequences of degradation at this late stage of the Champions League would be nothing but a haunting nightmare. For Ronaldo himself, this could have a huge impact on his form over a long-term period.
Fortunately, though, the former Sporting Lisbon player’s fate in this Champions League is not yet decided. Without a doubt, it would take a very high level of energy and team work for Real Madrid to overturn their deficit at the Bernabeu on April 30 in the second leg.
As of now, though, Borussia Dortmund are the ones with the upper hand, and one thing is clear: Ronaldo’s great season is seriously at risk.
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