On Friday, May 17, the world will take notice as the 2013 Copa del Rey final transpires in Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid. The two teams clashing in the final stage of the illustrious tournament will be favorite Real Madrid and underdog Atletico Madrid.
Should Real Madrid lose, no one would suffer more than superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo enters this match as one of the most decorated footballers in the world, pairing the most expensive salary in soccer history with countless individual accolades. In turn, he's developed a warranted reputation as one of the best players of his generation.
A loss to Atletico Madrid, however, would be a blow that Ronaldo would struggle to recover from.
Time: Friday, May 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN Deportes
According to a report via ESPN UK, Premier League club Manchester United have constructed a financial package to acquire Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. As one might expect, they're not alone in their pursuit of the highly touted footballer.
Regardless of what happens in this game, their interest is unlikely to waver when it comes to acquiring the star forward. With that being said, Ronaldo has a $1 billion buyout clause, according to Guillem Balague of Sky Sports.
If any club is to come close to that mark, Ronaldo needs to put on dazzling performances from here until the day someone makes that legendary bid.
This is not to say that Ronaldo will be bought out for that much, as there could be a fraction of that number—albeit in the hundred millions—spent in the end. In that same breath, Real Madrid could stand pat and thus place a strong burden upon Ronaldo.
Are you really worth $1 billion if you can't defeat Atletico Madrid for this title?
Whether fair or foul, that's a question Ronaldo will face if he loses this game. If he wins, however, the pressure will be lessened as he continues to guide Real Madrid to success.
Sometimes your own value can be your own worst enemy.
The Messi Factor
Like it or not, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be forever linked as the top two players of their generation. For that reason, any measurable success that either man experiences will be compared to that of the other individual.
For that reason, Ronaldo must capitalize on this opportunity.
Football is a team sport, and no individual will win a title alone, but that doesn't prevent the blame from shifting onto one player when his club loses. That would be quite evident if Ronaldo was unable to lead Real Madrid past a less-favored club in Atletico Madrid.
Even coming off of a win over Barcelona, the reaction would be predictable—Messi could have done it.
If there's any chance Ronaldo can win an award or title without Messi in the mix, he must prove his supremacy. Not only is the competition between the two footballers of legendary proportions, but every slip up is detrimental to Ronaldo's chance to be proven as the best in the world.
A win here helps protect his legacy, while a loss would be beyond damaging—the pressure is on Ronaldo at the Copa del Rey.