'Godin outdone by God' - Why Ronaldo's miraculous show was his greatest ever performance
Cristiano Ronaldo's latest Champions League cabaret show was a heavenly demonstration of why he is arguably football's greatest entertainer, writes Desmond Kane.
Godin outdone by God. If there is a higher power dictating the plates of European football, it is fair to see he looks, plays, heads and finishes like Cristiano Ronaldo. In the Champions League, there is no equivalent to the sense of purgatory and paradise Ronaldo delivers.
For Juve’s band of frenzied diehards and the delightfully invested, animated chairman Andrea Agnelli, the sense of excruciating ecstasy was all worth it in the end as Juve somehow tormented Atletico Madrid's teak tough defence in a 3-0 comeback filleting that rendered La Liga's second-best team third rate.
Ronaldo moved heaven and earth to produce such a miracle that one was left wondering whether or not the new Shroud of Turin will be drenched in the sweat of the fabled black and white Adidas shirt with Ronaldo’s face etched on it. This one will be no fake.
Ronaldo came, saw and conquered an Atletico team who tend to squander three-goal leads as regularly as a snow leopard is spotted. This just doesn't happen to a side with the most clean sheets in this tournament over the past six years.
One wonders what the returning Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane made of watching Ronaldo torture such an opponent after he was flogged by Madrid to Juve for around £98m last summer. Cheap at double the price.
Ronaldo is astonishingly on course for a fourth straight Champions League victory by moving in for the kill with more purpose than any big cat. On such nights, the Old Lady claws at her detractors. Especially after Atletico manager Diego Simeone had celebrated his 2-0 win over Juve three weeks ago with more delirium than a hair transplant.
When you grab your junk for no reason in victory, you set yourself up for what comes next. This must have felt like a boot in the balls after Atletico were hung, drawn and tripled in Turin.
Ronaldo mocked Simeone, and milked the moment. But he had every right to luxuriate in a famous victory. Even if the celebration was crude.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus celebrates the victory.Eurosport
His heaven-sent football cabaret act runs on with no signs of repentance. Holding an unbeaten 18-point lead over Napoli, Ronaldo was not wheeled out by Juve to dominate Serie A. It is nights like these that justify his purchase. Juventus had never recovered a 2-0 deficit from an away first leg, but then they didn't always possess the do ron ron.
"This was why Juventus brought me here, to help do things that they have never done before,” said Ronaldo after the match.
"It was always going to be a special night and it was - not only for the goals but for the team. This is the mentality you need to win in the Champions League. We enjoyed a magical night."
Juve were sent out with orders to unsettle and disrupt Atletico’s pride in defence by making it physically intimidating and bruising. It is a testament to their work ethic that Simeone’s side looked like lost souls, a hardy side who appeared out of their depth even with Diego Godin in the trenches.
On such nights, Ronaldo is not merely a splendid finisher, but one of the world’s best flat-track bullies.
He careered into the body of the Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak as the Slovenian goalkeeper spilled the ball enabling Giorgio Chiellini to finish when the game had barely opened.
It was the correct call by the Dutch referee Bjoern Kuipers after consulting VAR, but the tone had been set.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus gestures during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Juventus and Club de Atletico Madrid at Allianz Stadium on March 12, 2019 in Turin.Getty Images
At the age of 34, Ronaldo is more than just turning back the clock. He can push water uphill.
He rose above Juanfran to net the opening goal on 27 minutes from Federico Bernardeschi's centre before repeating the dose on 48 minutes via Joao Cancelo’s ball.
This time retrospective officiating was kind to the home side as goal-line technology showed the header had crossed the line.
With Atletico looking increasingly displaced, Ronaldo had the final say when Angel Correa pushed Federico Bernardeschi to the deck.
Ronaldo reacted by pumping the penalty low to Oblak’s right with the keeper heading in the opposite direction for a rousing 3-0 victory.
The numbers are astounding when you think of Ronaldo: this was the third hat-trick of his career against Oblak, an eighth hat-trick in this tournament. He has gorged on 124 goals in 160 Champions League appearances. The records endlessly tumble.
The former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams wondered last week why Aaron Ramsey decided to leave Arsenal for a "smaller club" in Juve. Strange comments indeed because any footballer in the world would want to participate in these goings on. Especially to bear witness to Ronaldo.
"Cristiano Ronaldo is a living football God and it is ridiculous what he is doing," said another former England central defender Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport.
"In the Champions League he has got every record you can imagine. It was also against an Atletico team that is renowned for having a great defence."
Antipasti had done a number on antifootball. The main course is yet to come, but one suspects Ronaldo is the chef de mission on a mission.
He brings as much frisson to the Champions League as Zadok the Priest, but Handel's masterful music is arguably not as memorable as Ronaldo's football art.
Here was Game of Thrones with a fantasy finale. If God works in mysterious ways, Ronaldo can be seen and heard yet cannot be stopped as a true force of nature.