Cristiano Ronaldo’s Masterpiece Was Years In The Making


It was the 65th minute of El Clasico when Mesut Ozil stepped up to take the corner kick. Real Madrid were down 1-2 at the Camp Nou, and staring at an 11-point deficit behind Barcelona in the title race — barely two months into the 2012-13 season. The corner kick wasn’t one of Ozil’s finest, an over-hit out-swinger that ended up landing just a couple of feet inside the 18-yard line before bouncing out of play for a throw-in on the far side. The Camp Nou faithful promptly erupted in a collective cheer of mockery. But it wasn’t aimed at Ozil. It’s not as if rival crowds ever need a reason to boo Cristiano Ronaldo, but on this occasion, he gave them one anyway. For moments before Ozil’s cross tumbled out of play, Ronaldo decided to attempt a first-time overhead volley, a most improbable attempt at an equalizer to add to his first-half opener. Taking a couple of backward, diagonal steps, he threw himself in the air and swung out his right foot. His boot made thunderous contact with thin air, missing the ball by several inches, and he landed in a heap, his left shoulder painfully thudding against the slick Camp Nou turf. Victor Valdes and Martin Montoya hovered over him, bearing expressions of concern. Ronaldo would eventually recover to complete his brace, but the match finished 2-2, leaving an eight-point gap atop the table that Barcelona would not relinquish. CR7 left the Camp Nou with an injured shoulder that nearly ruled him out of two World Cup qualifiers with Portugal the following week. A specialist in failure Over the years, the sight of Ronaldo trying (and failing) to score a bicycle kick for Real Madrid would become commonplace. Go to YouTube and type in ‘Cristiano Ronaldo bicycle kick fail’ and you’ll find several examples, most of them more damning than the aforementioned El Clasico fail. There was the August 2013 attempt against Real Betis, where he swung out his boot in hope again, only for the ball to bounce off his forehead and out for a goal kick. Ungainly at best. The following season, he managed his second bicycle kick fail in Catalunya, this time in Espanyol’s Estadi Cornella-El Prat. On this occasion, his boot made flush contact – with the solar plexus of poor Espanyol captain Javi Lopez. In 2015, Ronaldo took his overhead-kick fail show to the Champions League, completely missing an attempt against Schalke 04. On that occasion however, he had the foresight to stick out his left arm to cushion the blow on his shoulder, something he would also do following a sideways overhead kick fail against Alaves in 2017 — experience garnered from previous failures. 2017 was also the year in which Ronaldo managed his second fluffed overhead kick attempt against Barcelona, this time at the Santiago Bernabeu, where the ball smacked his face instead of the back of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s net. But to be fair, Ronaldo wasn’t a complete “specialist in failure” (to quote Jose Mourinho) when it came to scoring overhead kicks. There was this wonderful effort against Granada at the Bernabeu, which goalkeeper Roberto had the audacity to save, and this shot against Celta Vigo which grazed the top of the net. Magnum opus delivered Ronaldo had already scored three minutes in to put Real 1-0 up against Juventus at the Allianz Stadium. Los Blancos then had a golden opportunity to double their lead after Ronaldo stole the ball in the Juve penalty box after taking advantage of a miscommunication between Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini.
The Portuguese smartly squared the ball to Lucas Vazquez, but the Spaniard’s strike was thwarted by a desperately diving Buffon. Opportunity wasted.

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