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Ronaldo’s Bicycle Seals Perfect Performance In Real Win At Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, including an incredible bicycle kick, to lead Real Madrid to a resounding first-leg win at Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinals. (2:54)

In a repeat of last year’s Champions League final, Real Madrid did exactly what they did during that game in Cardiff. After going ahead early, they blitzed the opposition in the second half. Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and one from Marcelo has Zinedine Zidane’s side with one foot in the semifinal following a 3-0 win.

Positives

Real Madrid are back and firmly in the driving seat with a second leg to come at the Santiago Bernabeu. Whatever doubts linger over their domestic form, Madrid are a completely different animal in the Champions League. Ronaldo continues to up the ante at 33 years of age and that makes a third Champions League title on the trot a very distinct possibility.

Negatives

Real looked decidedly delicate after Ronaldo’s opener. Against a better team, that game might have taken a different twist in the first half, but Juventus lacked the cutting edge. On an individual level, Karim Benzema continues to disappoint.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Picked Isco when he had been playing with Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio in recent weeks. He also used his subs perfectly as the two second-half goals broke Juve’s hearts. After the home side ran themselves into the ground, Vazquez and Asensio came on to inflict further pain. He continues to get his team selections right with an in-form and deep squad. The continued loyalty shown to Benzema does raise questions, however.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Keylor Navas, 8 — One world-class save in the first half from Gonzalo Higuain kept Real Madrid ahead, and he denied the Argentine at the death too. Aside from his shot-stopping, his distribution in open play is now a major part of Real Madrid’s game.

DF Dani Carvajal, 8 — Pushed back in the first half but did ask questions of Alex Sandro and Kwadwo Asamoah when going forward. Defended solidly during the spell that saw Juventus dominate and put the ball on Ronaldo’s toe for the bicycle kick.

DF Sergio Ramos, 7 — Had an excellent first half with one late slide on Paulo Dybala, keeping the score intact early on. He got booked in the second half, but that will hardly matter now even if it looked important at the time.

DF Raphael Varane, 7 — Should have scored in the first half with an open header. He did well against a dangerous Juventus attack and was strong in the air. Passing was also very good, as usual.

DF Marcelo, 7 — Strangely subdued on his return to the team, but Douglas Costa is a tricky customer and the left-back is not known for his defensive prowess. He was the architect of Ronaldo’s first with the ball to Isco that sent two Juventus players the wrong way. Got the third that broke Juve’s will.

Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

MF Casemiro, 8 — Provides essential cover for Luka Modric and Toni Kroos and also covers an astonishing amount of ground at the base of midfield. Strong and essential to this Madrid team.

MF Luka Modric, 9 — Suffered in the second half but was one of the only players keeping Real afloat when Juventus were piling on the pressure in the first half. A pillar of control and calm in midfield.

MF Toni Kroos, 8 — One hundred percent pass completion in the first half with 35 attempts. He rattled the crossbar with a strike too and complements Casemiro and Modric perfectly. Does a lot of unheralded running also.

MF Isco, 9 — Flawless, literally; he had a 100 percent pass completion during his 75 minutes on the field. His movement gives Real Madrid so many options and the creative midfielder is almost impossible to defend against. Brilliant.

FW Cristiano Ronaldo, 10 — His overall input was negligible but his two goals at two important times show what he is all about. A real No. 9 now and that bicycle kick was one of the very best of his career. Also provided the assist for Marcelo to lather icing on the cake.

FW Karim Benzema, 6 — Very poor yet again. Anything good that happens when Benzema is on the ball is by chance and his confidence is cripplingly low. Withdrawn after 59 minutes when Zidane had seen enough.

Substitutes

FW Lucas Vazquez, 7 — Heavily involved when he came on and ran an already exhausted Juventus ragged down the right.

MF Marco Asensio, NR — One lovely ball into Modric, which the Croatian blasted wide, and was lively against a tired Juve side. Played 15 minutes in place of Isco at the end.

MF Mateo Kovacic, NR — Replaced Modric after 81 minutes and rattled that crossbar with a nice strike. Game was decided when he came on and is a nice sub to have when Modric runs out of gas.




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