Cristiano Ronaldo

There’s no other player in the world right now on the scoring run Cristiano Ronaldo is on with 8 goals in the first 4 matches of the Champions League this season, tying a 11 year-old record, showing a remarkable ability to look horrible for one half and then switch to dangerous with every touch later on as Real Madrid drew 2-2 with Juventus and pretty much punched their ticket to the round of 16.

He has scored 21 goals in 16 matches this season so far, and has now scored 14 goals in the competition during 2013, breaking Lionel Messi’s record from 2012 of 13 goals. Ronaldo still has two matches left to extend his impressive achievement, and boast that he’s doing well enough to win the Ballon d’Or, finally.

But besides Cristiano Ronaldo scoring goals, the interesting thing about Real Madrid’s match in Turin was their terrible first half, in which Carlo Ancelotti, a conservative manager as they come when it’s tactics involved, telling his players to defend and do nothing else. Marcelo was quite agitated throughout the first 45 minutes, as Juventus were the next team to realize just how awful of a defender he really is.

The trio of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were wasted completely as Real Madrid barely crossed the half way line, and had to rely on Iker Casillas saving them time after time (not just in the first half) from Paul Pogba in a fantastic display of technique, off the ball movement and speed.

Juventus

All the goals in the match came within 23 minutes: Arturo Vidal’s penalty kick (42), Cristiano Ronaldo’s equalizer (52), Gareth Bale (60) and the second equalizer from Fernando Llorente (65). Real Madrid opened up in the second half, which allowed the goals to come. But with so much talent and clear superiority everywhere on the pitch, it’s hard to believe Ancelotti would opt to play for the draw when there’s no real need for it, limiting his players for most of the match.

Besides the negative approach of their manager (not for the first time) who has rarely seen more than one good half of football from his team this season, it’s pleasing to see Gareth Bale finding himself, despite playing out of position. Without tactical assignments to hamper his style, Bale is extremely difficult to stop when he goes on his runs. Few players possess this kind of pace with the ball, combined with a tank like presence as he moves forward. It’s true that if it wasn’t for a Martin Caceres mistake early in the second half, the comeback might not have happened, but Real Madrid deserves those goals during those minutes.

Iker Casillas doesn’t have the best defense in the world playing in front of him. However, despite being someone who plays once every two or three weeks, he’s still as sharp as ever when it comes to instinct and stopping shots on the goalline. Juventus needed terrible decisions and defending from Rapahel Varane to score their goals, because Casillas was stopping everything thrown at him. It simply makes January more interesting to look forward to.

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