If there is one play that defined the decade of la Luerte, it was undoubtedly the hat trick by Ronaldo. The magician from Benfica switched the FC Barcelona defence into something similar to a mousetrap. Ronaldo absolutely had to make the trick and make it work. He made the most of a difficult situation and ended in a match that Real Madrid would eventually lose 3-2 at the Camp Nou.
In many ways, it was like a normal hat trick for Ronaldo. He took a nice touch from defenders then struck superbly from the spot to put Barca ahead. There were few chances of any resistance as Barca were comfortable at home with their shape and structure. Ronaldo made two goals look easy; the first from a fine run down the right wing, the second from a right-footed volley that hit the post and went in. It was like nothing else he did all season. In truth, this was Ronaldo’s best game for Barca.
Two goals were enough for Juve to take a 2-1 lead, but Ronaldo almost added a third when he found space on the left side of the field after a foul by Paco Diaz. Despite his efforts, the defender tripped letting Ronaldo have a clear shot. The Spain international ran down the right side and thumped the ball into the empty corner, and while Angel Di Maria’s header put Barca ahead, it was not enough. Ronaldo then added a fourth of the night to give Madrid a deserved lead.
This was arguably the best hat trick by a Madrid player since Argentine legend Diego Maradona in 1994. The magician may have only scored two goals, but if he had not done this, he would not have equaled the feat of David Trevis, who remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. Ronaldo may have added a brace himself, but he knows that to be able to score a hat trick he needs to do it on his own.
There are few players who have as varied a career as Ronaldo. When he is good he can be amazing, but when he is not so good he can still scores plenty of goals. Against AC Milan he showed why he is considered one of the best passers in the world and he also hit the post with a blistering drive. Against Real Madrid he played with energy and determination and scored twice, giving the Portugal fans yet another reason to believe.
Ronaldo also changed Juve’s entire game with his finish, converting both of their chances and providing the cross for Benzema’s goal. Perhaps most importantly though, was the way that the forward kept his head up even when he needed to think a step further than he might have done otherwise. In a game where possession was crucial, the 24-year-old scored three goals, giving him his individual 15th of the season and ensuring that Juve go into the quarter finals of the Champions League behind Chelsea and Manchester United.
It was not all plain sailing though, as replays appeared to take some before he got into trouble and was substituted after 45 minutes. Despite the time off, Ronaldo picked up where he left off and scored again, helping Juve win at their second consecutive away match in their final league game. Two goals from Alves and one from substitute Lucrativeo sealed the deal for Ronaldo to become the first double player of the season. The celebrations were not, however, over as there was no doubt that Ronaldo has what it takes to become the best goalscorer in the world.
This leaves Real Madrid with a lot of work on their hands. For the champions to retain the three Champions League titles that they have earned is not going to be easy. Even with Ronaldo on their team, they will struggle to get over a side that is favourites to win. There will also be plenty of expectations riding on the shoulders of their defence. They have invested heavily in bringing in Brazilian centre-backs, but have not been able to replace their talisman, the 33-year-old Ronaldo. They still stand very little chance against the highly fancied Barcelona.