After being sidelined for three weeks, Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to the pitch for Real Madrid. The World Player of the Year is playing in his first game since his injury and trying to pick up where he left off.
Ronaldo had tied Lionel Messi for the record of most goals in a single Champions League season. Messi set the record during the 2011-2012 season. After Ronaldo tied Messi, the 29-year old forward left the game missed the next four games with a hamstring injury. Now that the forward has returned for the game against Bayern Munich for the Champions League semi-final game in Madrid, the expectation is that Ronaldo will have the record all to himself.
The return of Madrid’s star player could not come at a better time. Munich has defeated Madrid 11 times over 20 matches since the 1975 Champions League season. To make things tougher for Madrid, Bayern Munich has a new coach this year. Pep Guardiola is running the game from the sideline now. Previously Guardiola was at the helm of Barcelona. In 15 games against Real Madrid as the Barcelona coach Guardiola won nine, lost two games and ended up in a draw four times. Guardiola’s Barcelona squad also never lost a road game to Real Madrid.
Along with Cristiano Ronaldo being ready to return to play, Marcelo Vieira has also returned to the pitch to bring Real Madrid back to full strength. Marcelo was also out with a hamstring injury during the same time as Ronaldo. Gareth Bale, who was hit with flu-like symptoms earlier in the week should also be ready to go against Munich. Bale has been named the Premier League Player of the Year for two of the last three seasons along with the return of Ronaldo and Marcelo will make it tough for Guardiola to keep his no loss record as a coach against Madrid unmarred.
The question is not really if Madrid will win. The question seems to be how quick will Ronaldo score goal number 15 and how it will come. Ronaldo is a threat anytime the ball is near him and if the returning forward can get his foot on a free kick within range of the goal, the Champions League will have a new single season goals scored record holder.
The return of Ronaldo is also positive for Portugal with the World Cup getting closer. Coming back from the hamstring injury and getting back into sync on the soccer pitch will help get the star of the Portugal National Team ready for group play. Portugal is the ranked 3rd in the world behind number one Spain and number two Germany. The ranking is in part due to what Ronaldo has brought to his national team.
The soccer world is watching to see if Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the pitch today as the same player he was three weeks ago. With Ronaldo back playing, the rest of the Champions League tournament and the World Cup has become a lot more intereting.
Commentary by Carl Auer