Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League
There’s little doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players to grace the Champions League and it’ll take someone pretty special to ever topple his achievements. His record in the competition speaks for itself: five Champions League titles, the most goals (125) and the most hat-tricks (eight). Now at Juventus, who are fourth-favourites should you wish to bet on Champions League winner, he has the opportunity of adding to his tally. Here, we will take a look at when Ronaldo has come up against his former clubs in the Champions League.
In the 2007-08 season, while at Manchester United, Ronaldo faced former side Sporting Lisbon in the group stages of the Champions League. Roma and Dynamo Kiev completed the line-up in Group F – with United going on to top the group with 16 points. It was on match day one that the Red Devils travelled to Lisbon – and who else but Ronaldo to pop-up and score on his return to the Estádio José Alvalade. His 62 nd minute header was enough to hand victory to United in their opening clash and his subdued celebrations were met by a warm applause from the Sporting faithful. He was later replaced by Carlos Tevez, but received a standing ovation from both sets of fans as he left the field. Ronaldo was also on-hand in the reverse fixture to grant United a 2-1 victory, but he left it late to steal three points to send the Red Devils through to the knockout stages. He returned to the starting line-up, having been dropped from the squad in their previous Premier League game. It was a quiet first-half for Ronaldo but when it mattered most, he swerved in one of those trademark freekicks in injury time, sending United through without needing a result against Roma in the final game.
In 2012-13, Real Madrid lost their semi-final to Borussia Dortmund, but Ronaldo ended the season as Champions League top scorer with 12 goals. Having finished second in Group D behind the Germans, Los Blancos then faced United in the round of 16, with Ronaldo facing his former club in search of a place in the quarter-finals. The first-leg was at the Santiago Bernabéu and saw Madrid come from behind to secure a point and set-up an exciting second leg in Manchester. Reminiscent of his header in Moscow against Chelsea in the 2008 final, Ronaldo met Angel Di Maria’s cross with perfection and there was no chance for David De Gea in goal. Los Blancos had to come from behind again in the second-leg and two goals in three minutes in the second-half turned around their fortunes. Ronny received a welcome reception back at Old Trafford and was on hand to get the winner. His 20-yard shot may have hit the back of the net via the post, but it counted and like previous games against his former clubs, the celebrations were muted – while a small pocket of Real fans went crazy.
Madid left it late to secure three points in their opening game of Group F in 2016-17, with Ronny scoring once more against Lisbon. His long-range free kick levelled the scores in the dying minutes, and Alvaro Morata’s stoppage time header secured the win. Interesting fact: this goal was the fifth time in a row that Ronaldo had netted against his former clubs. It came to an end in the reverse fixture; however, Real Madrid were still victorious and had already advanced to the knock-out stages.
This season at Juventus, Ronaldo was pitted against former club Manchester United in the group stages of the Champions League – with both teams going on to progress to the knock-out stages. In their first meeting at Old Trafford, Juventus were victors and went on to move five points clear at the top of the group. Unable to cap off his performance with a goal, Ronny received a warm reception from the United faithful and was the last player to leave the field at the end, having spent time with fans. In the reverse tie at the Allianz Stadium, Ronaldo was on the scoresheet but found himself on the end of a 2-1 defeat. A trademark volley from the Portuguese forward put the hosts ahead on 65 minutes, but two late goals in five minutes stunned Juve –Juan Mata’s curling freekick levelling the scores, before Alex Sandro found his own net from Ashley Young’s centre. La Vecchia Signora still topped the group with 12 points. Unless both Juve and Manchester United make it to the Champions League final, Ronaldo won’t be facing his any of his former clubs again this season… but there’s always next year!