Cristiano Ronaldo is targeting his fourth Champions League trophy – and third with Real Madrid – when the Spanish giants tackle Serie A winners Juventus in Cardiff (live on BT Sport 2, 7.45pm kick-off).
The Portugal striker is the current world player of the year and will strengthen his case for more individual honours if he helps Real triumph on Saturday.
Here, we argue that victory in Wales will crown Ronaldo as the best player of the modern era.
With 404 goals across his years with Manchester United and Real Madrid, Ronaldo is the all-time top scorer in Europe’s top five leagues. He surpassed Jimmy Greaves with a brace at Celta Vigo in May. This season he became the first player to reach 100 Champions League goals, hitting the milestone in the quarter-finals against Bayern Munich, and his hat-trick against Atletico in the last four made him the first man to notch 50 times in the knockout stages of the competition.
Much to Ronaldo’s chagrin there are a number of Barcelona players – including Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and his great rival Lionel Messi – who have won the Champions League four times. Ronaldo will match their achievement if Real triumph in Cardiff and then the race will be on to emulate AC Milan great Paolo Maldini’s five-cup haul. Although he played in the European Cup era, Real’s honorary president Paco Gento has conquered the continent six times – Ronaldo can aim higher.
Up for the cup
Beyond his European exploits, Ronaldo has won 10 domestic prizes, if one includes the Premier League, FA Cup, English League Cup, LaLiga and Copa del Rey. Real’s recent five-year gap between winning the Spanish championship has hurt him in this respect, as Barca’s Messi dwarfs his Spanish successes with eight league titles and five cup wins. The boy from Madeira has some way to go here.
Top of the world
Last summer in France, Ronaldo managed to do something Messi and so many other contemporary greats have failed to do – win a major international trophy. Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph proved Ronaldo was truly world class, even if his nation have regularly fallen short at World Cups during his career. Messi, meanwhile, has an Olympic gold medal with Argentina but a tale of three major disappointments in finals: twice in the Copa America against Chile and against Germany at Rio 2014. Ronaldo has scored 71 times for Portugal and is their most capped player of all time with 138 outings.