The football elite know how to win games.
I was working in the studio at Fox Sports last night and much of the pre-match discussion was about Real Madrid. It was clear to see they had a tough task ahead of them, as everyone knows how good the Germans are at shutting down opponents. Just look at how the German National side performed at the last World Cup.
We all know the saying “teams beat individuals”.
Wolfsburg’s coach Dieter Hecking said himself that all his side needed was a special night like the first leg in Germany. They turned up confident because they had already done something special against a great team, and all they needed was one more big performance.
Zidane’s response was that there was no need to panic. Madrid just had to stay calm – even if Wolfsburg grabbed a goal. The Bernabeu is a special place and the supporters are great, so belief was still high.
And oh boy – how special was it?
The magic man Ronaldo showed us why he is one of the best players in the world. And he did it when his team needed it most in the greatest club competition in the world.
He said before the game that Madrid needed big performances and that they had to do it all together. Although Ronaldo stole the show, Real won together as a team, because he still needed the other ten men to defend and feed him the ball.
Madrid needed an early goal to get the fans excited and make the Germans uncomfortable. They got their two early goals and it was game on.
Madrid moved the ball around fast and gave Wolfsburg no time to reorganise. That created space between the Wolfsburg midfield and defensive line. That is how big teams dismantle you and before you know it they had scored.
If you can’t reorganise quickly as a compact team when you’re playing against top midfielders like Kroos and Modric, they will use their vision and intelligence to find the perfect pass to the striking force.
And when you have a man in your team who is as hungry as they come, and shows the world every week how bad he wants to win – you see special things. Ronaldo’s eyes and body spoke volumes from the moment he arrived at the stadium until the last minute of the match. He was ready to take on who ever was going to face him. Energetic, intelligent and a real leader.
The stats say it all about Ronaldo. Last night we saw his 16th Champions League goal in 10 games this season, as he clinched his 37th Real Madrid hat-trick (thirty seven!).
If that doesn’t silence the doubters, nothing will.