Real Madrid hasn't hoisted the European Cup in over 10 years, but superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to change that as he's poised to lead Los Blancos to their 10th UEFA Champions League title in 2013.
Never mind the debate over who the best player in the world is—Ronaldo is the best player for Real Madrid.
Following his sensational ninth-minute goal against Galatasaray in the first leg of Madrid's quarterfinal tie with the Turkish club on Wednesday, it seems losing is no longer an option for Ronaldo, as Madrid is now unbeaten in its last 11 matches, dating back to early February.
Ronaldo's early goal also extends his UEFA Champions League goal streak to four straight matches.
As far as the squad is concerned, Madrid looks like a safe lock for the semifinals, barring an away collapse next week. Ronaldo and company lead comfortably on aggregate and will advance to the next stage even with a 2-0 defeat on April 9.
How far will Cristiano Ronaldo lead Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League in 2013?
But the better news for Madrid supporters is that Ronaldo is firing on all cylinders heading into the most critical stages of the UEFA Champions League.
If his match-winner at Old Trafford last month wasn't enough to prove it, his electrifying go-ahead goal at Bernabeu certainly serves as overwhelming evidence that the 28-year-old forward is in his physical and mental prime.
Plus, Madrid currently has rival Barcelona's number, having defeated Barca three times out of the two clubs' last five meetings and earning draws in the other two. Barca is one of the favorites to reach the semifinals and perhaps the UEFA Champions League final in May.
Ronaldo certainly wouldn't mind matching up again with the world's top player in Lionel Messi, especially considering he has scored a combined five goals in Madrid's last five meetings with Barca.
Other contenders like Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich pose threats to Real Madrid, sure, but neither club possesses an individual go-to talent quite like Ronaldo. Dortmund gave Madrid problems in the group stage earlier this season but was severely out-shot (36-23) and out-possessed (61-39 percent on average) in two meetings.
Surely Madrid will love its chances going up against them again in a potential knockout stage.
As for Bayern, winning the UEFA Champions League has proven nearly impossible as of late. The German powerhouse has finished as runner-up in two of the past three years, scoring just one goal in two final defeats in 2010 and 2012.
Bayern lacks a go-to talent like Ronaldo—a player who not only rises above the pressure match after match but also often delivers in the biggest moments.
Cristiano Ronaldo is surging right now, playing some of the best football of his career, and so is Real Madrid. Behind the strength of that superstar talent, Los Blancos are the hands-down favorite to hoist the UEFA Champions League crown next month.
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