You wouldn't say it's been a dream preparation for Cristiano Ronaldo, but the superstar will put this chaotic week behind him with a stellar performance in the UEFA Champions League this week, when Real Madrid take on Borussia Dortmund at the Bernabeu.
It started with the first leg in Germany, where Ronaldo's Madrid were completely and utterly beaten by a rampant Robert Lewandowski and Dortmund's attacking midfield.
Lewandowski scored four goals in the first leg of the semifinal to give Dortmund a huge 4-1 advantage on aggregate. Ronaldo was able to find the back of the net for the visitors following a mistake from defender Mats Hummels, but his story was secondary to that of the Dortmund striker on the night.
Ronaldo was completely shut down by the stellar defensive job of the Germans, and Los Blancos suffered an embarrassing defeat as a result.
Then came the injury.
It wasn't like we didn't see it coming, but Ronaldo was left out of Real Madrid's squad on the weekend for their Madrid derby against Atletico Madrid with a muscle injury.
Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has rested his star player from league games when there's a big game coming up on the weekend, but it's hard to think that he would have wanted to rest him before a Madrid derby. Especially since he didn't rest him prior to the first leg against Dortmund last week.
Reports emerged that Ronaldo's "absence" was indeed due to an injury, and that whilst he would be ready for the second leg (as we all expected), the injury is still a real concern. Various media outlets report that whilst the superstar will take the field for Madrid, the niggling injury is still a concern and may hinder his performance somewhat against the 2012 German champions.
And then came the most ridiculous and most chaotic news of all—reports from the British press about Ronaldo having an affair. The star winger quickly denied the rumors and released a statement before the story could break, but the damage—to some extent—had already been done.
As Ronaldo himself said in the statement, "I wonder why this happens one day before a very important game [against Dortmund] for my team."
Combine all that, and it's been a horror week for Ronaldo, but there's little doubting that it will faze him here. This is a proven goal-scorer and game-winner that we're talking about, and if his performances in the Champions League so far have shown anything, it's that he is capable of leading the European heavyweights to Champions League glory once more.
Three goals down is a long way to come back against Dortmund, but Ronaldo is capable of making it happen. For it only takes one goal to put the pressure right on the Germans, and as we've seen in the tournament so far, defending a lead when the pressure is on is a very difficult thing to do.
AC Milan couldn't do it at Barcelona .
Bayern Munich couldn't do it at Arsenal.
Real Madrid couldn't do it at Galatasaray, either.
All lost their respective second legs, despite coming into the match with leads from the first leg, and the same fate could well await Dortmund in this one—as good as the Germans have been this year.
Ronaldo will be the man to make that happen, and despite being held under wraps for three games this year by Dortmund, he will finally break free here. He'll find space on the left given the more direct nature that Madrid's attack will employ here, and he should see plenty of opportunities for goals—something that the Portuguese international doesn't need to be given.
Ronaldo has more shots on target than any other player in the Champions League this year and has more goals than any other player as well—something he'll look to add to against Dortmund this week.
Will it be enough to bring Madrid back from defeat? I can't see it happening.
But what is for certain is that the Portuguese star will be his brilliant attacking self on the pitch once more, and the headlines around him will all be written for the right reasons. Not about an injury or a seemingly fabricated affair, but about his on-field performances that have made him the superstar he is.
Even the most stellar individual performances in sport can be beaten by a brilliant team, and we're likely to see the same thing with Ronaldo and Dortmund here.
But that doesn't make it any less incredible.
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