Atletico beware: Two-goal head-start against Juventus in Champions League tie could count for little given Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning scoring record against Madrid side
- Atletico Madrid take a 2-0 lead to Juventus in Champions League last-16 tie
- 81 per cent of teams with such an advantage progress in the competition
- But Atletico have every reason to fear Cristiano Ronaldo despite their lead
- Ronaldo has scored 22 goals in 32 previous meetings with the Madrid club
- Portuguese star has built his reputation on performing in the biggest occasions
Ordinarily, entering the second leg of a Champions League knockout tie with a two-goal advantage should almost be enough to guarantee safe passage.
A whopping 81 per cent of teams who have won the first leg by such a margin have progressed, so you’d think the odds are stacked in favour of Atletico Madrid, who hold such an advantage over Juventus on Tuesday night.
But they’ll step out at the Allianz Stadium with a sense of trepidation because of the presence of just one man lining up against them.
Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to inflict more misery on Atletico Madrid when his Juventus side try and come back from a 2-0 deficit in their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday night
It was a night to forget for the Portuguese star as Juventus lost the first leg 2-0 last month
JUVENTUS vs ATLETICO MADRID
Tuesday 8pm; Allianz Stadium
Live on BT Sport 3
It was precisely for circumstances such as this Juventus shelled out £100million on Cristiano Ronaldo last summer.
Ronaldo lives for such nights and had a consistent track record of delivering when it mattered for Real Madrid during nine seasons there in which he won the Champions League four times.
He also has an exceptional record of scoring against Atletico and will strike fear into them in Turin despite their two-goal headstart.
Ronaldo has played 32 matches against Atletico during his career, has scored 22 goals and contributed eight assists. Of all the clubs Ronaldo has faced, only Sevilla (27 goals) and Getafe (23) have suffered more.
His expertise on the big Champions League occasions is also shown by the fact he is head and shoulders above everyone else in the all-time competition scorers’ list with 121 goals.
Ronaldo celebrates scoring Real Madrid’s fourth goal against Atletico in the final of 2014
In all, Ronaldo has scored 22 goals against Atletico Madrid in 32 outings against them
Ronaldo netted a hat-trick in the semi-final, first leg against Atletico Madrid in 2017
Ronaldo vs Atletico
Matches played: 32
Goals scored: 22
He has only scored the one Champions League goal so far for Juventus – against former club Manchester United at Old Trafford in the group stage – his lowest return in Europe since the 2005-06 season.
But Atletico have been hurt too many times in the past by the swaggering Portuguese to fall for that one, even if they did manage to restrict Ronaldo to one unsuccessful free-kick in the first leg.
He rounded off Real’s fightback by scoring their fourth goal in the Champions League final of 2014 and famously celebrated by removing his shirt and flexing his muscles.
And it was Ronaldo’s stunning Bernabeu hat-trick that ended Atletico’s hopes in the first leg of the 2017 semi-final. A similar performance on Tuesday evening will do nicely for Juventus.
Ronaldo celebrates with Sergio Ramos after scoring the first of his hat-trick in the semi-final
Ronaldo scores from the penalty spot in a La Liga fixture against Atletico in November 2011
They bought Ronaldo, who is likely past his peak aged 34, not to help them win the Italian championship – their dominance is already absolute – or even to boost shirt and merchandise sales.
It is to get them over the final hurdle in the Champions League, where glory has evaded them since 1996 via defeats in the finals of 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2017.
Ronaldo’s experience and expertise in guiding teams through the knockout phase of the competition is unrivalled and Juventus need him to deliver in their hour of need here.