For the unfamiliar, Cristiano Ronaldo will probably be the one rampaging through the U.S. defence when Portugal plays the U.S. at this summer’s World Cup.
The Real Madrid forward is the best player in the world right now.
He scored about once every 72 minutes for Real this year. He broke the record for goals scored in a single Champions League campaign with 16. He has 251 goals in all competitions since his $US100 million transfer to Madrid in 2009 — a pace that should see him set the club’s goalscoring record by 2016.
In an exceptional era of Spanish soccer — where the national team won three straight major competitions, Barcelona won two Champions League titles, and two transcendent players have shattered goal-scoring records for the country’s two biggest clubs — Ronaldo has, for now, emerged as the best player in Spain, and thus the world.
Ronaldo’s brilliance comes from his ability to do everything an attacking player can possibly do on a soccer field.
There are no holes in his game. The same way LeBron James can shoot, dribble, post up, drive, and pass, Ronaldo can finish with both feet, bury free kicks, beat defenders one on one, win headers, and thread perfect passes.
He’s also a freakish athlete.
He’s one of the fastest players in the world, so fast that the Daily Mail seriously compared one of his runs to Usain Bolt’s 100-yard dash. He’s also six-one with incredible leaping ability, so much that Real Madrid set up a “Jump As High As Ronaldo” display after he scored a goal on a nine-foot-four-inch leaping header.
After he left Manchester United in 2009, Sir Alex Ferguson described what the loss would mean:
“Cristiano is a massive loss. I have nothing but praise for the boy. He is easily the best player in the world. He is better than Kaka and better than Messi. He is streets ahead of them all.
“His contribution as a goal threat is unbelievable. His stats are incredible. Strikes at goal, attempts on goal, raids into the penalty box, headers. It is all there. Absolutely astounding.”
He can score goals in every way it’s possible to score goals.
If you could combine all the different types of attacking players — goal poachers, speedy wingers, target men, free-kick specialists, and so forth — you’d get Ronaldo.
1. On a free kick:
2. With ridiculous speed:
3. In front of goal:
4. With his head:
There are very few athletes who can do everything. Even Lionel Messi, who might be one of the best players ever, isn’t a threat on headers.
Ronaldo is one of those rare players, which is what makes him so spectacular and terrifying.
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