Cristiano Ronaldo's renaissance act proves his doubters wrong once again
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace at Eibar’s Ipurua Stadium to lead Real Madrid to another narrow 2-1 win.
It came a few days after breaking the deadlock at the Parc des Princes as they defeated Paris Saint Germain 2-1 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals with the Portuguese goal machine scoring 3 of Real Madrid's 5 goals in the tie that everyone had been waiting for.
New Money versus Old Money, the admirers of the throne and the holders of the throne, the in-form French giants against the lacklustre Spanish heavyweights. The odds were heavily stacked against Real Madrid but they won due to the eternal brilliance of one man. Ronaldo.
Zidane's tactical decisions played a huge part in both resounding wins but the main protagonist who was able to bring it all to bear was the man many had doubted before the game. Ronaldo.
The form with which he started 2018 and has carried on since then has made those who doubted him at the beginning of the season eat their many words about him being a spent force.
He returned from a 5 game ban earlier in the season and with his return came his worst stats goal-wise and form-wise in the La Liga and with his loss of form came a drop in fortunes for Los Blancos as they couldn't keep up with Barça who were streaking away at the top of the table.
The Madrid club was dropping points against all forms of teams- big teams, middle table teams, minnows, everyone got their share of points at Madrid's expense- games where Ronaldo would have normally made the difference.
But his own woes in front of goal meant they had to endure a pretty bad first half of the season with many asking if the then soon-to-be 33 Ronaldo would ever be able to get back into the form that saw him win a record-equalling 5th Ballon d'Or.
He was seen as done with, seemingly unable to decide the biggest matches anymore, names were posited as possible replacements for him but with a change in the calendar year came a return of the Ronaldo that Madridistas have come to adore and above all, depend on.
If there was any person who didn't doubt Ronaldo throughout this dry spell in the league, it was Zidane as he often reasoned with the press that despite his inability to find the net in the league, he was doing that with regularity in the Champions League and thus said it looked like a matter of time before the Madeiran forward would be back amongst the goals and true to word, he was.
The season which started with high hopes in August was already starting to be written off by the middle of December as they lost the Clasico, were paired with PSG in the round of 16s, key stars were either unable to replicate their brilliant form or were out injured, the Copa Del Rey which was expected to serve some respite as a back up trophy ended with a shock elimination at Leganes’ hands at the Bernabeu, and fans had come to fear the worst.
However, the return to form of Ronaldo makes the season much brighter, the elimination of favourites PSG at the hands of Real Madrid brings back the fear factor that those at Valdebebas have always possessed.
The form Ronaldo is in at present gives Los Blancos a more realistic chance of winning the Champions League. He was doubted the same way in the 2015/16 season when Zidane became boss but he proved them wrong last season by scoring in all the big games as Real Madrid won an unprecedented consecutive Champions League title.
The eternal renaissance act Ronaldo undergoes every year is the stuff of legends because only the true greats turn up and disappoint those who doubt them and this latest instalment is what will make his believers proud.