The UEFA Champions League returns this week, and Real Madrid's home date against Manchester United on Wednesday will be, to quote Real boss Jose Mourinho, "the match the world is waiting for" (via ESPN FC).
Among the many storylines the matchup will offer, Ronaldo's is probably the most compelling. Ronaldo, now 28, became a superstar during his days as a youngster at Manchester United. Now, with Real Madrid struggling domestically, he'll try to lead his team to European glory against his old club.
Fortunately for Madridistas, Ronaldo enters the match with momentum. On Saturday, Real Madrid spanked Sevilla 4-1 in Spain's Primera Division, and Ronaldo contributed an impressive hat-trick of goals. His first, which came in the 26th minute, was the pick of the bunch.
With Real leading 1-0, Ronaldo accepted a pass on the right side, cut into the middle and unleashed a fierce drive from well outside the box. The shot curled around the keeper and nestled into the side netting at the far post to give Real a 2-0 lead they would never surrender.
"He is spoiling us, scoring so many goals and playing such great games," said Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol (per RealMadrid.com). "We expect him to do so every day. He netted three times against Seville and we hope he can do it again on Wednesday. The superb goal he scored is something only a player with his class can pull off.”
Albiol is right all around. Few players, if any, could have pulled off Ronaldo's goal. In addition, it came at a vital time for Real as they prepare for Manchester United.
Plus, Ronaldo's three goals pulled him level with Gento for sixth place all-time in the Real Madrid scoring records (again, per RealMadrid.com). And he did it in 426 fewer matches than Gento.
Watch above and enjoy. Now, who do you think will win the big match this week? Let us know in the comments.