Cristiano Ronaldo has put his tremendous individual talent on display for a decade. His ability to take control of a squad as a true leader hasn't always been such a sure thing, however. It's what Real Madrid needs to happen to claim the Champions League trophy.
Ronaldo can dribble through an entire maze of defenders, cut to the middle and unleash an unstoppable shot. The question becomes when the going gets tough during the UCL semifinals, and potentially beyond, and his teammates are looking toward him for leadership, can he provide it?
In the past, it's a role he struggled to fully embrace. It's not a total surprise given the fact that he was still a relatively young player being expected to lead two marquee clubs in Manchester United and Real Madrid through pressure-packed situations.
Now, he's 28 years old and has gone through countless key matches over the course of his career. He should know exactly what to expect when the going gets tough, as it assuredly will in the next round. He must lead the Blancos through it.
His comments (via UEFA.com) following the club's loss to Galatasaray, in which it still managed to advance thanks to a strong first leg, are a sign he's ready for a more prominent role as a leader.
You learn from your mistakes; the team always give their best but from time to time we make mistakes – this can happen, and the best thing is it happened now and not in a decisive game. The most important thing is that Real Madrid are in the semi-finals.
When asked about his personal accomplishments, he turned the focus back to the team goals. That's what a leader does.
I am happy about that but the most important thing for me is to help Real Madrid achieve their objectives with my goals, my performances. I am happy to enter in the history of the club and help them qualify for the semi-finals.
That's exactly what Real manager Jose Mourinho wants to hear from his star player and leader. The individual accolades are great, but club success is what truly matters. If all 11 players have that type of mentality, the Blancos will be in good shape.
Ronaldo, who's been in tremendous form recently with goals in eight of his last nine appearances, must continue to lead the charge. Whichever two teams emerge from the other quarterfinal matchups on Wednesday will make for a star-studded semifinal round alongside Real and Borussia Dortmund.
For Real Madrid to grab the trophy, which would help offset the likely disappointment of not being able to repeat as La Liga champions, Ronaldo must spark the attack and accept the leadership role.
Should he do both of those, he will put his team in position to grab the coveted title.
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