Real Madrid: Ronaldo has been absolutely pivotal to the Madrid side since 2009. Be it his bullet headers, stunning strikes or stupendous skills on the pitch, the man has made an inerasable mark on Spanish football in the 9 seasons he has spent there. In addition, he has covered up for a clumsy and erratic Karim Benzema and an injury-prone Gareth Bale, time and again, in the recent past. His partnership with Marcelo on the pitch and their friendship off it has led to several instances of delightful football, unique celebrations, funny moments and eventful press conferences. ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ is a term that defines Ronaldo the best because he has repeatedly scored crucial goals in must-win and knockout games, and come up with a moment of brilliance to break the ice in a high-pressure situation. A notable example would be the Champions League quarter-final in 2016 against Wolfsburg when Real fell 2-0 away in the first leg only to win 3-0 at home, thanks to a Ronaldo hat-trick. That very much explains the ‘never give up’ attitude the man has in plenty. Another instance, a much more recent one, was in 2018, again in a Champions League quarter-final, when Ronaldo inspired a wonderful Real performance, scoring a brace including a spectacular overhead kick, in a 3-0 thrashing of… Juventus. The Italians made a brilliant comeback to level the scores in the second leg, only to concede a penalty in the final seconds of the match, which was put away splendidly by, you guessed it, Ronaldo. The man is something else and whether Real will find a similar hero soon remains a huge question mark.
Juventus: For most of the last 10 years, Juventus have dominated Italian football. They have won the League title 7 times in a row and continue to be a menace in the Cup as well. However, they have fallen inches short of the Champions League time and again. They made the Finals in 2015 and 2017, only to see Barcelona and Real, respectively, destroy their hopes. In 2018, they were out in the quarters, while in 2016, they fell in the semi-finals. This has prompted the management to buy more and more quality players such as Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic and more, but Juventus continue to fall just short of success in Europe. The transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo could just be the one that changes their plight in the coming seasons. With his inclusion, not only do Juventus get an extra burst of energy and a genuine goal-scoring threat upfront, they also get a motivator and a resilient individual who will lead the team and provide them with hope till the very end. Juventus have proven that they possess the ability to fight, for instance, when they fell behind Real 3-0 at home in the quarterfinals in 2018, only to score 3 goals in the second leg. But, just as the game was about to enter extra-time, a defensive blunder cost the team and all the effort went in vain. The team could line up with Higuain and Mandzukic upfront, with Dybala and Ronaldo taking the wings. In midfield, Juventus have tremendous talent with Rodrigo Bentancur, Pjanic, Claudio Marchisio and Federico Bernardeschi all in the mix. The defense, too, is solid with Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Alex Sandro and others leading the line. If everything falls in place, this Juventus side could just go all the way in Europe – 23 years after they last won it in 1996.