Cristiano Ronaldo.

Why the stage is set again for Ronaldo

Wednesday 23 February 2022 07:00

Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo has played more games, and won more matches, against Atletico Madrid than any other team in his illustrious career.

The Portugal international meets the Rojiblanco again, for the first time in United colours, after facing them 35 times in all competitions, and coming out on top on 17 occasions.

These include Real Madrid's two Champions League final triumphs over their neighbours and the hat-trick that overturned Juventus' two-goal first-leg deficit in the 2018/19 quarter-finals.

He bagged trebles at both the Vicente Calderon and the Wanda Metropolitano and also hit three in a last-four Champions League tie at the Bernabeu in 2017.

See how effective Cristiano Ronaldo has been for United in the Champions League.

Little wonder that the Atleti supporters will give him a hostile reception when he is back in Madrid for Wednesday night's round-of-16 encounter. 

Of course, this will be like water off a duck's back for the Reds superstar, who was instrumental in securing qualification from Group F. After all, he has 67 goals in the knockout stages of the competition, far more than the next best scorer, Lionel Messi on 49.

And he is more than used to rising to the occasion in the most partisan of atmospheres.

When asked if the environment will be one that our no.7 will thrive in, interim manager Ralf Rangnick told us:  “We will see. Again, he’s got enough experience. He’s used to this sort of hostile atmosphere in his career so it shouldn’t impress him a lot.

“For us, it’s about how we perform as a team. He cannot do it on his own. We have to perform on a high level as a team, like we did against Leeds, knowing the quality of Atletico is high.”

Ronaldo scored in each of the first five group games after rejoining the Reds but sat out the draw against Young Boys at Old Trafford, with a place in the next round already assured. His six strikes include two injury-time efforts and he also claimed the home winner against Atalanta.

The Champions League is certainly Cristiano's stage and he will be ready to shine again on Wednesday.