Cristiano Ronaldo: The gift that keeps on giving
India is currently in the midst of its Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations and as much as this festival is about lights, prayers and fireworks, the gifts that people exchange with each other during this time of the also form an integral part of the festivities.
While some of the popular gifts that are exchanged at this time of the year include new watches, phones, and other electronic gadgets etc., the harsh truth still remains that all these gifts will remain in vogue only until an upgrade is introduced for each of them.
A true gift, though, is one which reminds us of its worth every time we come across it. And while it may be difficult to find such a gift in the materialistic world, football fans are blessed with one such gift in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Distance makes the heart fonder
For over a decade now, the Portuguese superstar has enthralled the footballing world with his incredible abilities on the pitch. However, on the flipside, it’s also on account of this very reason that he isn’t appreciated as much as he should be. In other words, football fans became so habituated to Ronaldo’s brilliance, that they began to belittle his powers over a period of time.
Given this scenario, what was perhaps most needed was a hiatus from the sight of Ronaldo on a football pitch, so that the footballing world could truly acknowledge the worth of what he brings to the game.
And as luck would have it, this is exactly what happened during the early stages of the ongoing season when the talisman missed the opening four games of Real Madrid's domestic campaign due to a court suspension.
As expected, the defending La Liga champions didn’t look their usual selves without their talisman as their title defence got off to a rather indifferent start with two wins and two draws from their opening four league games.
Meanwhile, Barcelona, on the other hand, had laid down the marker and taken control of proceedings in the league and made themselves comfortable at the top of the standings.
In a way, it’s almost unthinkable that a team like Real Madrid which is studded with superstars would depend so heavily on the presence of one man to inspire them. But, whether anyone likes to hear it or not, the fact still remains that Madrid are an expensively arranged one-man army.
And truth be told, this has been the case ever since Ronaldo joined the Spanish giants in 2009 and Madrid’s latest run of form without the now 32-year-old has proved this point once again.
But, as he has done on numerous occasions in the past, the Portuguese skipper came back with a bang and scored a brace in Madrid’s 3-0 win against APOEL Nicosia in the Champions League last month.
Ronaldo’s return to action had not only provided Los Blancos with a focal point for their attack but more importantly, also meant that the Madrid once again had the player who had led the team by example throughout his time at the club.
With the former Manchester United man back in their ranks, it was only a matter of time before Zinedine Zidane and his men got their collective act together.
And the difference that the four-time Ballon d'Or winner has made to the side is plain to see as Madrid have managed to get their domestic season back on track with consecutive wins over Alaves, Espanyol and Getafe, with ‘Ronnie’ managing an assist and a goal in each of the last two games.
Lessons from midweek
The stark contrast between Real Madrid’s performances this season with and without Ronaldo speaks volumes of his relevance and importance and to the club, despite having been at the club for almost a decade now.
But what’s even more commendable is the fact that Ronaldo is still able to live up to expectations even on the biggest stage of them all as was seen during the UEFA Champions League encounter against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this week.
Despite having won their first two encounters against APOEL and Borussia Dortmund respectively, the game against Spurs was always going to be crucial for Madrid as in all probability it might be tie that decides the table toppers in Group H.
And as he always has for his side, Ronaldo led from the front against the North Londoners on Tuesday night, as he looked a threat to Spurs right from the word go. Ronnie’s movement, both on and off the ball, was incredible as he worried the English club’s defence throughout the course of the game.
Though Ronaldo scored Madrid’s equalizer from the penalty spot in the latter stages of the first half, his best moment of the match came in the second half when he latched onto a pass from Karim Benzema in his own half and went on a lung-bursting run, beating four Tottenham players, before forcing Hugo Lloris into a smart low save.
In a way, Ronaldo’s performance on Tuesday is a timely reminder of the fact that his gifts are still very much intact despite him having used them (generously) to capture our imagination over the last dozen years or so.
But to be honest, we too can’t be blamed for taking Ronaldo’s genius for granted, after all, we’ve been witnessing it on a weekly basis for more than a decade now.
But given that Ronaldo’s gifts are showing no signs of waning anytime soon, neither should our love for the man. On that note, here’s wishing everyone a very happy new year and here’s hoping all of us can emulate Ronaldo and make the most of our gifts in the coming year.