When the going gets tough, CR gets going
When the chips are down, Cristiano Ronaldo delivers. In the Champions League, here is a figure who really comes up with the goods. Having helped Madrid snag Le Decima - a 10th European Cup - two years ago with a 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid after extra-time in Lisbon, Ronaldo increased his tally to an astonishing 46 goals for the season by helping himself to a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Wolfsburg as Zinedine Zidane’s side retrieved a 2-0 first-leg loss against the Bundesliga side with a quite blissful performance.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their third goal and his hat-trick with Marcelo and Gareth Bale
Image credit: Reuters
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Suddenly, Los Blancos are contemplating lifting number 11 at the San Siro in Milan next month and the Liga crown. Madrid have incredibly reached their sixth straight Champions League semi-final, but they need Ronaldo at his very best to take the final golden step in Zizou’s first season as a coach. Betting against Ronaldo, feels like betting against the house.
Real will need to play much better to win title
They may well have won from a difficult position, but Real Madrid did not play well tonight; they created very few chances, and rarely looked likely to create any. Happily for them, it turned out not to matter - simply having the astounding Cristiano Ronaldo was enough to account for Wolfsburg. But the likelihood is that it will require more, far more, to beat the teams likely to join them in the last four. It is far from certain that they will find it.
Are Manchester City about to part company with a coach who delivered what they wanted?
Manuel Pellegrini could depart Manchester City as a Champions League winner. Having struggled in the Premier League, with his side fourth in the standings 15 points behind Leicester City, the Chilean coach could easily leave the Etihad Stadium by winning football’s biggest club tournament. There was nothing to suggest in the 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain, inspired by a classy Kevin De Bruyne winner, that City cannot go one step further by reaching the final.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich may yet await City in the last four, but Chelsea proved in 2012 that the impossible dream is far from impossible having ousted Barca and Bayern Munich to lift the title four years ago. It would also be ironic if Pep Guardiola succeeds a Champions League winner after replacing Jupp Heynckes in 2013 following Bayern Munich’s march to European glory. It would be ironic if Manchester City are suddenly in the process of dispatching the coach who they decided to replace to achieve such a feat. It’s a funny old game.
Can Zlatan cut it in the Premier League?
The Champions League trophy again is out of reach for the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic. For all the self-parodic hype, once again, on the big stage, the Swede failed to produce the goods. Yes, he was starved of service at the Etihad. Yes, City defended well, but, as we have seen before, when the going got tough, Zlatan got going.
In the run up to City’s penalty incident, the Swede contributed to PSG giving the ball away, and there was never even an inkling of intention to try to win the ball back. The veteran hitman did have a few powerful efforts at goal, but that was about it. He did also have the ball in the net, but from an offside position – when he really should have been looking along the line.
Do Manchester United want to outlay such wages on a 34-year-old who shirks against top notch opposition? United need to rebuild, but welcoming the Zlatan circus may just be too much of a distraction for a team in transition.
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