Through the joyous haze of Real Madrid’s dominant display against Liverpool in the Champions League last night, one notion developed more clarity than ever; Cristiano Ronaldo is up there with the best footballers of all time.
Prior to the Anfield clash there was plenty of heady talk praising Ronaldo and his incredible abilities in front of goal, with hardly a stone left unturned concerning analysing his ridiculous strike-rate since moving to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009.
Even the most biased fans couldn’t have successfully predicted the class with which his contribution during last night’s showcase would be taken. Rather than buckle under the pressure - as so many players have done in the past when they’ve been talked up by the media on mass - Ronaldo stepped up to the plate. But more importantly, he did it with aplomb.
The smart toe-poke finish past a floundering Simon Mignolet, after his one-two with James Rodriguez, not only opened the scoring on the night but also put Ronaldo within breathing distance of Raul’s all-time Champions League goalscoring record.
Breaking the record
The Spaniard managed to amass 71 goals in Europe’s premier club competition, and the man who now wears the No.7 shirt in Madrid is currently on 70.
As such it would seem that it’s beyond doubt that he will eclipse the Galactico legend’s tally within the next few weeks, with the return fixture against Liverpool on November 4 - for which they will be overwhelming favourites - preceding relatively comfortable fixtures against FC Basel and minnows Ludogorets.
The Messi battle
When he does break the record there can be no resting on his laurels though, with arch-enemy Lionel Messi having registered 69 Champions League strikes himself virtue of his goal against Ajax on Tuesday night.
The contest is yet another chapter in the on-going battle for supremacy between the two of them; the result could be a defining point when the time comes to discern who was the better player when they hang up their boots.
Aside from all that though perhaps it’s Ronaldo’s performance from last night that should be celebrated more than simply his penchant for scoring goals.
The demon banished
The 29-year-old banished a lingering-demon - one of a very small few - which had prevented him from netting at Anfield in his five previous visits, and even earned a standing ovation from certain sections of the home crowd when he was replaced in the second-half.
Doubters will naturally remain; presiding over his claim to being the greatest to have ever lived. With Ronaldo tumbling records almost as quickly as he’s winning plaudits however, there may not be too much to debate for much longer.
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