By Jude Anab Ayipala
When the music stops, the last man on the throne is the King. When the sound of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) anthem beats, every team hopes to be the crowned king at the end of it all.
Juventus hoped to be that team this season by breaking the bank and getting arguably the greatest player (Cristiano Ronaldo) in the history of the UCL in a 100m euro deal.
This movement rippled an effect which sent pundits of this beautiful game daring to hazard a prediction of events;
Will Real Madrid regret selling their talisman? Will Juventus finally end their long wait for their most coveted trophy (UCL)? Will CR7 be successful in his new adventure?
This is a postmortem which does not only answer these questions but disects everything into perspective and leaves the provoking question, who will sit on the throne when the “Champions League” melodiously comes to an end?
Real Madrid sort to achieve three things when they voted Fiorentino Perez to be at the helm of affairs at the club. All the madridistas hoped they will; get back to purchasing galacticos, break the resurging domestic dominance of arch rivals Barcelona, and annex the most sought after ‘La Decima’ (10th Champions League title). Ronaldo together with other galacticos before and after him were signed to bring back the era of galactico to the capital.
However, while Real Madrid failed to break the dominance of Barcelona domestically in the 9 seasons Ronaldo spent with the Spanish giants (Barca won 6 La Liga titles and five Copa Del Reys whereas Real Madrid only managed 2 of each respectively in that same time frame), they however excelled in the UCL winning 4 of the titles in the last 9 seasons with 3 of which being an unprecedented consecutive wins under the current format.
Real Madrid then capped all the success chalked on the continental and global stage by selling a 33 year old Cristiano Ronaldo for a whooping 100m euros in order to rebuild by investing in youth. They have suffered on the pitch as a result, which they ought to given they sold off a 50 goals a season player. This led to them consequently crashing out of the UCL round of 16 stage disgracefully to a less fancied Ajax side.
Domestically, the script hasn’t changed for ‘Los Blancos’ as it was the case even with Ronaldo when the ‘Blaugranas’ continued to dominate and still do.
Over at the ‘Bianconeri’, it was all pump and pageantry as ‘La Veccia Signora’ gave CR7 a messianic welcome to Turin.
Alas, the man to rescue them from their continental woes has been bought. Vice president of Juventus, Pavel Nedved in September 2018, told idnes.cz that: “As a club we have made a step forward and we want to make it count in the Champions League”.
Ronaldo in his first ever press conference for Juventus added that: “It is no coincidence that they (Juventus) have won the last 7 scudetto titles in a row. I feel honoured Juventus thought of me and i now want to take the club to an even higher level”.
After the comeback against Atletico de Madrid, where Ronaldo bagged a hatrick in Turin to send Juventus to the quarter finals of the UCL which convinced all doubters that indeed Ronaldo will lead the old ladies to the promise land, he posited this: “This is why Juventus bought me, to help them in games like these”.
But as fate will have it, Juventus capitulated to the nemesis of Real Madrid (Ajax) in which Ronaldo scored a goal each in both legs but wasn’t enough to help in a crucial game as this.
Juventus had spent 100m euros to only get knocked out at the same stage they gate crashed against Real Madrid last season but this time it was worse;
Juventus were knocked out of the UCL for the first time since Anderlecht did so in 1981/82 season by a team outside of Europe’s top 5 leagues. Again, Juventus lost a UCL knock out stage match having scored the opener for the first time since 2003 Vs Basel.
Juventus has spent huge and yet, not achieved close to their best (Finals 2014/15 and 2016/17 seasons) in recent years in the UCL.
On a personal note, Ronaldo may be adding a scudetto to his illustrious and impressive trophy hall but in the collective, his purpose has been mooted for failing to at least get Juventus to the finals of the UCL. Juventus have won the last 7 scudettos and the last 4 coppa Italia but with Ronaldo this season, thay have to make do with only an all familiar scudetto as they crashed out in the Coppa Italia in the quarter finals to Atlanta by 3 goals to nothing in which Ronaldo lasted the whole duration of the game.
On his personal statistics since Joining Juventus, Ronaldo is currently 4th in the ‘Capocannoniere’ (Top Serie A scorer) race netting 19 goals thus far; his lowest tally at this stage in a league since 2009/10 season. His 6 goals in the UCL this season is his joint lowest tally (2010/2011 season) since 2007/08 season. He is currently on 26 goals in 38 games in all competitions and with 6 matches to the end of his season, it is gunning to be his lowest ever goalscoring tally since 2009/10 season and this is just his first season with the zebras.
To put this in perspective, Gonzalo Higuain in his debut season (2016/17) for Juventus scored 32 goals in all competitions, won the scudetto and coppa Italia and led Jeventus to the UCL final.
Real Madrid may have crashes out but now in hindsight, they are the team that sold off an ageing Ronaldo for 100m euros in order to rebuild after so much success in Europe and in the world, while Juventus may have to hope that CR7 has more in him to help them achieve their aim on the pitch in subsequent seasons as he continues to age and leave his best years behind him with every passing season.
But hey, who sits on the throne at the end of the UCL anthem this season? Certainly not Real Madrid and most definitely not Ronaldo’s Juventus.
In the meantime, the musical chairs still goes on and the champions League anthem is in it’s climatic moment set to the exclamations “Die Meister! Die Basten! Les grandes équipes! The Champions!”
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