Last year, Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness issues were part of the talking points in the run up to the Euros – the Portuguese had become more susceptible to the natural weariness that comes with averaging a 50-match per season appearance largely based on Madrid’s characteristic runs to the late stages of virtually every tournament they partake in – be it the league, the league cup or the European engagements.
Concerns such as these were hardly raised in the early and peak stages of the Portuguese’s illustrious career. Age coupled with the laws of biology meant as the he got older he had to adjust and become less physical with his play.
Many of his contemporaries usually take the route of fewer appearances but given Ronaldo’s insatiable hunger to play and Lionel Messi’s desire in breaking and setting records in virtually every match, Ronaldo forced himself to play on. The only sacrifice he made was cutting down on his mesmerizing energy sapping dribbles – something well worth seeing in person if you get the chance, with tickets for all their home matches available here (you won’t believe how excited the crowd gets when the ball is played through to him!)
That however didn’t stop his body from wearing down every season’s tail end and that has in recent years become increasingly hard to deny nor ignore and of course downright affect him. It is not a secret that despite winning two Champions League trophies he was hardly involved in the deciding moments.
In the 2014 final, Angel Di Maria’s driving force and Gareth Bale’s clinical finishing certainly did more of the job than the former Manchester United forward’s late goal in a 4-1 rout of Atletico Madrid.
Two years later and same could be said of his last spot kick during the 2016 shootout decider after Sergio Ramos had done an early piece of magic.
It is with little surprise that this season seeming different had seen the talisman scored 5 goals against Bayern and 3 against Atletico in the quarter and semifinals respectively on route to UCL final.
Zidane’s rotation policy and Ronaldo’s willingness to rest finally paid off.