Cristiano Ronaldo has come in for a lot of criticism this week.
His Juventus side crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of Porto on Tuesday and many suggested the Portuguese was to blame. His role in the wall during Sergio Oliveira’s extra-time free-kick was, to put it kindly, poor.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner turned his back and the ball rolled between his legs and past Wojciech Szczesny.
Following the criticism, reports have since emerged that Juve are open to selling Ronaldo as they look to balance the books. The 36-year-old’s powers are waning and his ability to play at the very highest level is coming to an end.
It’s sad to see but let’s not forget just how good Ronaldo has been for almost 20 years now.
That’s why, after a tough week for the Portuguese, we’ve decided to look back at when he was quite incredible.
In fact, 14 years ago today, Ronaldo produced arguably his ‘most entertaining football ever’ against a European XI. Well, according to a YouTube video anyway.
The UEFA Celebration Match was organised as a celebration of both the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundations for the European Union, and the 50th year of Manchester United’s participation in UEFA competitions.
It was marked by a United side taking on a European XI at Old Trafford in the middle of the season.
The European XI had two different line-ups which were:
First half: Canizares; Zambrotta, Ayala, Materazzi, Abidal; Mancini, Pirlo, Gattuso, Malouda; Ibrahimovic, Larsson.
Second half: Coupet; Campo, Stefanovic, Christanval, Carragher; Kallstrom, Gerrard, Giannakopoulos, Zenden; Fowler, Diouf.
But the game belonged to Ronaldo who only played 45 minutes himself during United’s 4-3 victory.
But what a 45 minutes.
Ronaldo saw the term ‘exhibition match’ and ran with it.
Every time he received the ball, he produced a number of stepovers wowing the 75,000 spectators. He put on a show.
But the pièce de résistance was a quite ridiculous free-kick from 35 yards out.
We reckon it might just be the best free-kick of his career, you know.
A few months later, he scored THAT free-kick against Portsmouth – although that was about 10 yards closer to the goal.
Check out the full highlights of the match – in which Wayne Rooney scored twice: