The pearly white smile of Cristiano Ronaldo that could blind the sun from a billion light-years away was cranked up to ‘stun’ as a huge headed effort boomed into the back of the net.
It was a perfect day. Four goals in the 7-1 second-half rout of Celta Vigo returned him to the top of the goalscoring stakes in both Spain and Europe, and offered the chance to cup his hands to ears. Take that pooh-poohing Bernabéu booers!
For them, it was a first opportunity to respond to Ronnie’s post-Atlético moans about his team-mates not being good enough.
A week in La Liga can be horrendously long when form is swirling down the plughole, but polarities can be reversed in Spain if a few wins are racked up.
The Rojiblancos once again showed that they’re still the kingpins of capital city by churning out their latest no-nonsense victory – like a conveyor belt of Diego Simeone dreams – with a 3-1 win over Valencia in Mestalla on Sunday that had Monday’s Madrid press purring like kittens.
Real Madrid are back to playing someone difficult again with the visit of Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday, but Ronaldo was the talk of the pre-match press conference – as ever.
Coach Zizou was asked if he understood why certain sections of the fans wanted to boo Ronaldo and see him sold for a huge amount of cash to PSG.
“I was booed once, I think all of us were,” said the Frenchman, recalling his playing days for Madrid fondly. “But at the end of the day, I think the crowd really love the players,” he concluded, as a warning to the behaviour he expects on Tuesday night.
No hair, don’t care
In theory one of the toughest crowds outside of Mestalla should be able to boo away all night, as Madrid hold a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the game.
And while Roma are all very gung-ho with the ESP of El Shaarawy, Mohamed Salah and Diego Perotti leading the team to seven Serie A victories in a row, there is definitely more wiggle room at the back for the Madrid forward line of, er… J or M, B and C.
However, Luciano Spalletti is a cunning old hairless fox with 20 years of top-class managerial experience. He’ll be on the touchline opposite Madrid’s cunning young hairless whipper-snapper, who has about three months’ worth.
The Italian boss’s aim in his own press conference on Monday was to put the heebie-jeebies into a Madrid side that is traditionally spooked by Serie A teams from across the Med. “I go a little bit further,” said the Roma ruler on his demands. “I demand the impossible.”
If that impossible should materialise then Madrid’s season would be over in 90 minutes. Or 120 and then a bit more, if it goes to penalties. But that sounds less dramatic in writing.
Ronaldo & Co. may still be racking up cricket scores against the lesser sides of La Liga, but Barcelona are still 12 points ahead and the Champions League is the final drinking saloon on the dusty road to a decent season.
Let’s see how big Ronaldo’s grin is come the end of Tuesday night.
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