Real Madrid’s quarter-final victory over Chelsea in the Champions League gave the impression that the once-dominant European behemoth was regaining its old splendor. The Spanish team has suffered since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2018, but their fortunes are turning around this season in a very different way than the Portuguese striker’s.
Ronaldo moved to Juventus from Real Madrid in 2018 after nine years in the Spanish capital, where he won four Champions League titles and four Ballon d’Or awards. Real Madrid appeared to be coping well without their Portuguese superstar, winning La Liga only one season after he relocated to Italy.
However, the Spanish team hasn’t won the championship since 2020, and has struggled in recent years as they transitioned. Barcelona has recently suffered, and La Liga has become more competitive than it has ever been.
Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United in the summer was hailed as an acquisition capable of restoring the club’s Premier League crown. United also spent a total of £107 million on World Cup and Champions League winner Raphael Varane and highly touted Jadon Sancho, fueling speculation that they might fight for the title again this season.
However, United’s season has unfolded in a way that was not anticipated. They are currently in seventh place in the Premier League, six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Things started to go wrong for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a spectacular start to the season, which included a five-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. After a poor run, the Norwegian was stripped of his duties in November, and United has limped towards the season’s end under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
Atletico Madrid knocked United out of the Champions League in the last 16, while Middlesbrough knocked Rangnick’s team out of the FA Cup in February. Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford hasn’t gone as planned thus far.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, advanced to the semi-finals of the Champions League after defeating Chelsea on Tuesday, and the Spanish team now leads La Liga by 12 points. The club’s hangover following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2018 appears to have passed.
But United’s struggles this season do not mean that the Portuguese striker has lost his goal-scoring touch. This season, Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in 34 appearances across all competitions, with 12 of his goals coming in the Premier League.
After his match-winning hat trick in United’s 3-2 win against Tottenham in March, the 37-year-old also became the all-time leading goal scorer in world football. Ronaldo was brought to Old Trafford in the summer with the intention of scoring goals, and he has done just that.
While United will not be able to match Real Madrid’s European or domestic success this season, Ronaldo’s value to Rangnick’s team remains undeniable. Goals from United’s no.7 will be crucial if they are to make a late — albeit unlikely — push for the top four this season.