Cristiano Ronaldo is back
He’s back. Time has proved Zidane right. The Frenchman said that his much talked-about decision to substitute Cristiano Ronaldo against Las Palmas was taken “with Dortmund in mind.” And it worked. Ronaldo was angry and competitive, fighting for everything from the very start. He is his own biggest critic and he knows that he needs time and patience – having missed out on a pre-season altogether – to go back to being what he is: the best footballer on the planet. Those 20 minutes of rest that Zizou gave him in the Canaries reaped their rewards against Dortmund, a team that play with Bolt-like lightning speed.
Cristiano accepted the challenge and played brilliantly, hungry and inspired. He handed Benzema a goal on a plate only for the Frenchman to fall over himself and topped off his first-half performance creating and rounding off a majestic goal worthy of a Nobel Prize. It was his 95th Champions League goal, just a few short of a century. Messi has scored 86, so don’t bet against Cristiano being the first to reach 100. I also enjoyed his heartfelt moment with Zidane. As the coach said on Tuesday, “I’m not stupid and he’s intelligent.” Amen to that.
No sooner had Schürrle scored to bring Dortmund level with just a few minutes go my phone started buzzing with messages from friends winding me up about the colour yellow and how it’s become bad luck. Let’s get one thing clear. Drawing away at Borussia Dortmund is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it’s an impressive result. But, bearing in mind that since that ridiculous saga at the Ramon de Carranza under Benítez we’ve stumbled four times against teams in yellow (Cádiz, Villarreal, Las Palmas and Dortmund), I’m keen to avoid developing what’s known as xanthophobia: the irrational fear of the colour yellow. Fingers crossed that Eibar choose to play in their traditional home colours of blue and red this Sunday. Don’t be too shocked when I tell you what colour their reverse strip is… yellow!
The ‘German Ogre’?
When I was a boy, the Germans would often beat us at home. Bayern Munich, Kaiserslauten, Hamburg… playing in Germany was like going to the dentist. Last night Real Madrid came up against the legendary ‘yellow wall,’ albeit diminished by UEFA seating regulations for Champions League fixtures. But aside from the expected hostility of the crowd, I noticed a lack of Germans in Thomas Tuchel’s starting XI. He lined up with a Swiss goalkeeper (Burki), a Polish full-back (Piszcek), a Greek centre-back (Sokratis), a French-Mauritanian winger (Dembelé) and a Gabonese striker (Aubameyang). All that’s left of the legendary ‘German ogre’ is the name…
Keylor gets a pass
He made a mistake with a weak punch that led to Dortmund equalizing to make it 1-1 and in moments like that it showed that he’s been away for four months. His last action on the field was that unforgettable final in Milan. But generally he looked agile and confident. A shout out should also go to Kiko Casilla, who has held down the fort in Keylor’s absence with dignity and aplomb. Well done.