Cristiano Ronaldo, king of the Champions League
Atlético crash out
It was a big disappointment for Atleti as their hopes of playing the Champions League final at home vanished into the thin Turin air. Disappointment and also surprise at how they crashed out – Atlético were a shadow of their former selves, unable to play with their characteristic energy or string anything together. Juve got what they hoped for. Atlético didn’t. We didn’t witness Atlético's customary robustness and strength and, as Godín said after the game, they just didn’t find a way to make life difficult for Juve; they didn’t give the slightest inclination of being able to score a goal that would’ve meant Juve needed to score four. Morata got caught up in a continual scrap with Chiellini and Griezmann failed to turn up; in the end, Szczesny had quiet evening in the Juve goal.
Ronaldo and Simeone
Juve simply played a blinder, with Benardeschi stepping up and with Cristiano providing bite at the head of their attack. It’s on nights like these that you really see how players of his ilk change a team. Madrid noticed it before, and now it’s Juve’s turn, to Atlético’s misfortune: Ronaldo had already scored 22 goals against them, and now it’s 25. Cholo Simeone left the flanks wide open, trusting that his defence would deal with crosses. Cristiano had other ideas. Two leaps, two masterful headers, two goals, the second of which was verified by goal-line technology. The aerial battle was well and truly won by Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese striker would go on to complete his hat-trick with a perfectly executed spot-kick after Correa had given away a ridiculous penalty (strikers are dangerous in the box). Three goals for Cristiano Ronaldo, in addition to dragging his side through with his leadership, will to win and a competitive spirit he drives through the team. It’s a shame he spoiled it slightly with a crass gesture. Juve signed him to take them that one elusive step further and redress the imbalance between their domestic dominance and return in Europe, which is some way behind AC Milan’s. Now, with Cristiano bringing fire and thunder, they are serious contenders in this year’s competition.