Cristiano Ronaldo rose on the big occasion and scored twice as Real Madrid thumped Bayern Munich 4-0 in the Allianz Arena on Tuesday evening to make the final of the Champions League for the first time in 12 years.
The Portuguese forward, who also set a new record for most goals by an individual in the tournament with his 15th and 16th goals of the competition, produced a performance of pace, power and penetration to bring Bayern’s rule as champions to a very explosive end.
Now, Los Blancos have the chance to end the painful wait for the trophy they crave the most. Neighbours Atletico scooping the La Liga title as expected would be forgotten in an instant if the biggest trophy of them all returns to the Bernabeu.
For Ronaldo, he is now just one game away from truly justifying his transfer to the Spanish capital from Manchester United in 2009. For all his development as a player, his arrival has not sparked the glut of glory as expected.
Instead he has had to endure unprecedented periods of dominance from over in Catalonia, where Barcelona and Lionel Messi have ruled the roost. It has made for painful viewing, but there is a hope in the Spanish capital Ronaldo and his team-mates can signify its end with a victory in Lisbon.
Also uncomfortable for Ronaldo will have been seeing United’s success continue in his absence – albeit without the panache of old. His old club may be in a state of malaise and uncertainty at the moment, but they have still won league titles and reached the Champions League final in 2011 without him.
There would undoubtedly been more had he chosen to remain in Manchester. Chelsea pipped United by just a point in 2010, whilst Manchester City would not have boasted a superior goal difference in 2012 had Ronaldo been the spearhead of the opposition.
Rumours encircled in the summer that United were close to securing the return of the prodigal son, and that David Moyes wanted him to be the first marquee signing of his tenure. Their move for him, however tentative, ultimately failed with him committing to Madrid for the foreseeable future with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson widely mooted as the reason.
Turning his back on the side he battled so hard to join initially in 2008 then one year later would have been a major blotch on his career. An acceptance of sorts that the grass was never greener on the other side, and things had never truly worked out in Spain.
Now, he is just one game away from proving he was right. Proving that he made the right decision to ditch the rain of Manchester for the sun of Madrid. And proving he could achieve footballing greatness at the biggest club on the planet.
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