Monday, December 8, 2014
2014 brought yet more goals and records for Cristiano Ronaldo. After kicking off the year by collecting his second FIFA Ballon d’Or, the Portuguese star picked up where he left off in 2013, helping Real Madrid to a Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League double.
Though the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil? proved to be a disappointment both for Ronaldo and Portugal, he at least signed off with a goal in their farewell defeat of Ghana. The flying forward helped himself to plenty more goals as Madrid were crowned champions of Europe for the tenth time in their history, breaking the tournament’s single-season scoring record. Just for good measure, he then started the 2014/15 campaign with a record-breaking scoring streak for his club, while chipping in with two vital goals for his country in the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers.
All in all, the 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or finalist has put forward a compelling case for winning the award for a third time and has many reasons to look back on the last 12 months with a smile. FIFA.com picks out just three of the highlights from another memorable year in his outstanding career.
Bayern Munich-Real Madrid: Riding high in Europe
Real Madrid went into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich holding a slender 1-0 lead. While many expected the Spanish side to have a testing evening in the holders’ backyard, Ronaldo and his cohorts had other ideas, immediately stamping their authority en route to a stunning 4-0 win, the last two goals coming from the Portuguese flyer. As well as helping Madrid take a step closer to their long-awaited decima, Ronaldo’s brace also took his 2013/14 Champions League goal tally to 16, moving him past Jose Joao Altafini and Lionel Messi as the highest scorer in a single season in the competition. He took that total to 17 in the final, scoring the last goal in his side’s 4-1 extra-time defeat of Atletico Madrid.
Denmark-Portugal: Captain Fantastic
Portugal owed their presence at Brazil 2014 in large part to Ronaldo’s inspirational efforts in the qualifiers. The world finals themselves proved to be an occasion to forget for the player, who was hampered with an injury he had been carrying since the latter stages of the domestic season and was powerless to prevent his side’s group-phase exit. Portugal’s fortunes did not improve when the qualifying competition for UEFA Euro 2016 got under way in September, with Albania immediately putting them on the back foot with a shock 1-0 win in Aveiro. Captain Ronaldo came to his team’s rescue in their next outing however, a tricky trip to Denmark, the Madrid man popping up in the fifth minute of stoppage time to score the only goal of a keenly contested game. In putting Portugal right back on course for a place at France 2016, he proved once more that his countrymen can always rely on him in a crisis.
Granada-Real Madrid: A round dozen
Ronaldo could hardly have begun the 2014/15 campaign in more impressive fashion, scoring in a remarkable 12 straight games for his club in all competitions. He completed the sequence with the opener in a 4-0 away win at Granada, his 20th goal in an amazing run that featured a hat-trick against Deportivo La Coruna and a four-goal burst against Elche.