Cristiano Ronaldo: 5 times world-class centre-backs have praised the Juventus star

Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R)

Cristiano Ronaldo may have fallen behind Lionel Messi in their battle for football supremacy but don’t let that fool you into thinking the Portuguese superstar is past it.

Ronaldo’s header for Juventus in their recent 2-1 win against Sampdoria, in which he reached a height of 2.56 metres, proved his freakish physical ability remains in tact.

This season for Juventus he’s scored 10 goals in 14 Serie A matches - not bad for a player who will celebrate his 35th birthday in February.

Not that Ronaldo needs to prove that he can still do it. He’s already cemented his status as one of the greatest players in the history of the game and the rest of his career will simply be spent adding gloss to an incredible career.

Indeed, defenders will be pleased to see the back of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Ronaldo strikes fear into opposing defences. He’s a threat in the air, can score from anywhere and, while he may not show is as much these days, has all the skills in the book.

Don’t believe us? Well, we’ll leave it to five world-class centre-backs to prove it.

We’ll start with a player who has seen plenty of Ronaldo over the years.

Gerard Pique

Pique and Ronaldo were once teammates at Manchester United before becoming rivals at Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

The Spain international praised Ronaldo just weeks before the Portuguese forward was about to win the 2014 Ballon d’Or, making it back-to-back awards after Messi had won four in a row.

“Cristiano is a perfect machine, a hard worker who always wants to improve,” Pique told Voetbal magazine, per Eurosport.

“He demands a lot from himself, something that he showed at United, but the most surprising thing is that Lionel Messi won four Ballon d’Ors in a row and he still kept on going and had the strength to beat him.”

Portugal v Spain: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Jerome Boateng

Boateng also labelled Ronaldo a “machine”.

He used the term ahead of Bayern Munich’s Champions League semi-final clash against Real Madrid in the 2017/18 season as the German side plotted a way to stop the forward.

“We can only stop Cristiano Ronaldo as a team,” Boateng told Kicker, per Goal.

"In front of goal, he's like a machine. You can't shut him out completely, he always gets his chances in a game because of the lines he runs and his excellent timing.

"Real base their game around him and it's important we give him as little room as possible."

Boateng and Bayern were actually able to prevent Ronaldo scoring in both legs but lost 4-3 on aggregate.

Real Madrid CF v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg

Sergio Ramos

Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid teammate had the challenge of going up against him every day in training and also at the 2018 World Cup, where Ramos was helpless to prevent Ronaldo scoring a wonderful hat-trick for Portugal.

But Ramos loved having Ronaldo in his team and knew Real were significantly better for it.

“Our number seven is a striker like we have never seen before," the Spain defender told Telefoot, per FourFourTwo.

"He is already a legend and will be recognised as one of the best players in the history of football.

"Cristiano Ronaldo has a very important role in the team and everyone respects it."

Spanish defender Sergio Ramos (L) fights

Mats Hummels

Hummels studied Ronaldo very closely ahead of Bayern Munich’s Champions League contest against Real Madrid.

He knew he had to in order to stand a chance of stopping him.

“I watch many games of the big teams and take a general interest in international soccer,” Hummels told Bild.

“You notice a few things there. With Ronaldo, I think I've identified a few patterns; there are certain striking things.

“I will try to utilise this knowledge to my advantage. But I won't disclose it publicly.”

Hummels went on to label Ronaldo “the best striker in the world” after he adapted his style.

“In recent years Ronaldo has changed his playing style,” Hummels added.

“He is not as dominant as he was in earlier days, but rather utterly focused on finishing and goals.

“In this regard, he is the best striker in the world because he can score in any way, any second of the game.”

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Thiago Silva

When Paris Saint-Germain hosted Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage in 2015, Silva knew how important it was to limit Ronaldo’s impact.

"It's difficult to mark Ronaldo," the Brazilian said, per FourFourTwo. "I think he has a lot of qualities. He has all the abilities a striker can possesses.

"He’s very good with the head, the right foot, the left foot. His strike is the same whatever the feet. We need to be focused in order to mark that guy.

"We’ll try to work this afternoon in order to find the best way to mark Cristiano which is not an easy task."

Clearly, their efforts paid off. PSG kept a clean sheet en route to a 0-0 draw.

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So that's just five defenders who have raved about Ronaldo.

How about the countless defenders who have been left humiliated by the Juventus and Portugal star?

To be fair, they probably never want to utter his name again.

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