Cristiano Ronaldo is STILL the best player in the world

Cometh the big stage, cometh the man: Ronaldo scored a hat-trick for the second European clash in a row to lead Real Madrid to a 3-0 win against arch rivals Atletico. It didn’t take long for the Portuguese star, who has now bagged a record 103 Champions League goals in his career, to make an impact as he headed Los Blancos into a first half lead.

With 20 minutes remaining, Atletico were still in with a chance of picking up a positive result but Ronaldo stepped up to the plate to put the tie out of reach. On 73 minutes, he finished clinically from the edge of the box before completing his hat-trick in the final stages. Lionel Messi is a phenomenal talent but Ronaldo is still leading the way at the top of the sport.

The Juventus defensive juggernaut rolls on

It has been over 600 minutes since Gianluigi Buffon and the Juventus defence last conceded a Champions League goal. Massimiliano Allegri has built up one of the strongest and most reliable units in European football and Juventus will be quietly confident of finishing the job on home soil when Monaco travel to Italy next week.

Despite all of Monaco’s talent in attack, Juventus coped fairly well with the threat and the Italian outfit will fancy their chances against Real Madrid if both sides advance to the final in Cardiff. The thought of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema going up against Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli is mouth-watering to say the least...

Atletico have slipped further behind their city rivals

On paper, Atletico are incredibly strong; with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Torres and Kevin Gameiro leading the line. However, they have lost their ability to ‘see’ matches out. Defensively, they are nowhere near as solid as they were a few years ago and they MUST improve significantly ahead of the second leg next week.

Diego Simeone has led Atletico to two Champions League finals and a La Liga title but they will always be in Real’s shadow. Unfortunately, the Argentinian cannot really take Atletico much further and a change in career path could be on the cards. They are still blessed with talent but Real are now streets ahead of their oldest foes.

Gonzalo Higuain CAN do it on the big stage

The Argentina forward has had to deal with his fair share of criticism throughout his career; both in Spain and in Italy. Last summer, Serie A champions Juventus decided to fork out £74 million for the Napoli striker – an extortionate sum of money. Nobody thought that Higuain could top his 43 goals in 57 appearances campaign in his first season at Juventus...

But he has. Higuain has notched 31 goals in 48 games this season, including two in the first leg victory over Monaco. At 29 years old, he is well and truly in the prime of his career and his presence upfront gives Juventus an elite striker option – something they didn’t have when losing to Barcelona in the Champions League final in 2015.

Zinedine Zidane is a genius

If Zidane was a Real Madrid legend as a player, imagine how high his stock is with fans these days. Since taking over at the helm, the Frenchman – who featured in over 150 matches for Madrid during the Galacticos era – has been a revelation, leading Real to the European Cup in his first season before surpassing Barcelona’s record unbeaten run of 39 games.

His passion and commitment to Real is clear for all to see; he has the club’s best interests at heart. With Zidane leading the way and revolutionising the managerial scene, Madrid may be on the verge of dominating the European stage once again. Another Champions League crown could be on the cards if the Real boss stays calm, cool and collected.

About the Author
By
Alex McMahon

Alex is a freelance sports writer, specializing in football, rugby union and the NFL.

He has a keen interest in most sports though and trips to Wimbledon, Lucas Oil Stadium and Augusta National are on his bucket list. Currently residing in Cardiff, he has worked closely with 888sport since 2015 as well as producing content for the likes of Goal.com and The SPORTBible.