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  :: News ::



 

Ronaldo Best in the world ?
2008-04-04

Is Cristiano Ronaldo now the world's best footballer? It is becoming increasingly difficult to make a convincing case for anyone else.

Two goals this week have summed up the unstoppable brilliance of Manchester United's flourishing No. 7.

First, against Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, Ronaldo set the English league leaders on their way to a 4-0 win with an audacious back heel into the net through the legs of Villa defender Martin Laursen.

Then on Tuesday, Ronaldo was on target again, this time powering home a teeth-jarring header to give United the lead as they secured a 2-0 win over Roma in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal in the Italian capital.

While the first goal may have been a collector's item, the one against Roma said more about Ronaldo's recent development as a player. As a teenager at Old Trafford, it sometimes appeared as if Ronaldo was more interested in step-overs and tricks than end product; a player happy to add the gloss to performances while others did the graft.

The sight of Ronaldo sprinting into the box from just inside his own half before out-jumping defender Marco Cassetti to direct the ball beyond Roma keeper Alexander Doni and getting slammed into the ground for his endeavors -- an effort described with obvious relish by United coach Alex Ferguson as a "true center forward's goal" -- provided conclusive proof that there is now no more complete forward in world football.

"I think I've been quite lucky to have played with a lot of top, top players," said United's veteran midfielder Paul Scholes. "Cristiano has to be at the top now, purely for what he has done this season.

"To score the amount of goals he has done from his position has been nothing short of amazing. It is not just that -- it's his making of chances as well and the threat he poses to other teams."

Having terrified opponents in the Premier League for the last few seasons, Ronaldo is now doing the same on the European stage -- with Roma's David Pizarro so shaken after his side's latest defeat at the hands of United that he claimed the Portuguese winger's tricks and feints had been disrespectful to his opponents.

"It's nothing against my rivals," Ronaldo said in response. "Those plays are just part of my way of interpreting football. I have always done them, even three or four years ago when I was younger. But they are plays that I do for the good of the team and never to ridicule my opponents. I tried to do the best for Manchester United and not to make a show."

With 36 goals in all competitions this season, including 26 in the Premier League, the 23-year-old certainly has done his best for United and looks well on target to top Denis Law's club record of 46 goals in a season.

In the eyes of many United fans, Ronaldo has already eclipsed the achievements of not just Law but Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona and even George Best as well.

Meanwhile, the prospect of a likely semifinal between Ronaldo's United and Lionel Messi's Barcelona already has connoisseurs of Champions League football salivating at the prospect of a showdown between the continent's two in-form players. Beyond that Ronaldo will be instrumental to Portugal's hopes of improving on their runner-up finish at Euro 2004 at this summer's tournament in Austria and Switzerland.

And with even Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster this week calling Ronaldo the best player in the world -- cheekily adding that he believed he would be wearing the white shirt of Madrid within two years -- all Ronaldo now needs to confirm that status is the medals to prove it.

Source :: CNN.com

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