Why Cristiano Ronaldo Is Crucial to Real Madrid's Champions League Aspirations

Jason Pettigrove@@jaypetti1971Contributor IApril 21, 2014

Cristiano Ronaldo can be the difference against Bayern Munich.
Cristiano Ronaldo can be the difference against Bayern Munich.Clive Rose/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo has given everyone connected with Real Madrid a boost ahead of the Champions League semifinal showdown with Bayern Munich.

According to an Indo-Asian News Service wire via NDTC.com, and per a message on Ronaldo's own social networking community "Viva Ronaldo," the Portuguese will be fit to play in Los Blancos most important match of the season.

"He is back. Cristiano is ready to play against Bayern Munich" stated the website, and he is likely to be the difference on Wednesday.

Real Madrid have an astonishing 32 goals in the competition so far per WhoScored.com, and Ronaldo has a record-equalling 14 of them.

No one in the modern era has scored more, with the player currently tied at the top with Barcelona's Lionel Messi and AC Milan's Jose Altafini per UEFA.com.

With at least two more matches to play in the competition, three if Madrid go all the way to the final in Lisbon, you wouldn't bet against Ronaldo setting a benchmark that is unlikely to ever be beaten.

Fellow striker Karim Benzema is in no doubt as to Ronaldo's importance to the team per an interview with Telefoot via Peter McVitie of Goal.com:

He made me dream and he still makes me dream. For me, he is the best player of all time. 

I play with the best player in the world. We get along well on and off the pitch and I learn a lot from him.

He is already out on his own with most goals (9) in the group stages, per UEFA.com, and for a man who thrives on seeing the ball in the onion bag, you can be fairly certain he will be going all out to claim his place in the annals of Champions League history.

With 64 goals in the competition overall, he remains just seven goals behind Raul as the player to have scored the most goals ever and only three behind his nemesis Messi.

Against Bayern, Ronaldo's astonishing speed over the ground is likely to cause problems all game long for either Phillip Lahm or David Alaba, depending where Carlo Ancelotti stations the towering forward.

Alongside Gareth Bale, such raw power will severely curtail the full-backs own runs forward, and may end up forcing Pep Guardiola to modify his tactics to compensate for the lack of support up front.

Adept in the air, if Ancelotti decides to mix things up a little then Ronaldo should be able to work Dante sufficiently in the centre of the park. The Portuguese wins almost half of all of his headed duels per Squawka, and has a "spring" to trouble the best defenders. As Patrice Evra once found out.

And Ronaldo isn't finished there. 83 shots on target per WhoScored will give Guardiola food for thought in terms of how Ronaldo should be marked.

A propensity for simulation isn't a particularly palatable side of his game, and Guardiola will be aware that any defenders getting "touch tight" on the player run the risk of conceding set pieces in dangerous areas. 

We've seen time and again just what a free-kick specialist he is and any minor indiscretions that are punishable by the referee and are in range of the goal, will present another opportunity for Ronaldo to add to his tally.

One player does not make a team of course, but when that player is Cristiano Ronaldo then there is a significant edge to your game plan.

Real Madrid remain on course for the elusive "La Decima," the 10th European Cup trophy of their illustrious history.

Despite having missed out on the Copa Del Rey triumph, the rest is likely to prove hugely beneficial for Ronaldo who should be firing on all cylinders as the referee's whistle blows on Wednesday.

Having come so close before, 2014 could be the time for Ronaldo to help make the dream a reality.