Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to deliver up another big performance when Manchester United hosts Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League last 16 games on Tuesday night, according to Raphael Varane.
United and the Spanish champions approach the critical second leg tied 1-1 on aggregate, with the tie equally poised as they vie for a place in the competition’s last eight. Ronaldo has been United’s most valuable player in Europe so far this season, netting six goals in six games, particularly late goals in both meetings against Atalanta and a 95th-minute winner in the 3-2 triumph over Villarreal. Anthony Elanga was the hero when United recovered from behind to earn a thrilling tie in the first game in Madrid, but Varane reckons Ronaldo will be the man to watch when the two teams encounter again at Old Trafford. Between 2014 and 2018, Varane and Ronaldo claimed four Champions League crowns with Real Madrid.
Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, ranking him the leading scorer in men’s professional football. It was his first treble for United in 14 years and the 59th of his career. Cristiano is also the all-time leading scorer in Champions League heritage, with 141 goals in 186 appearances — a total that has helped him win five crowns.
Varane believes there is something in the competition and the attention it draws that drives his teammate, who’s often stepped to the occasion in Europe’s top-tier competition, including this season for United.
The World Cup winner, addressed on the club’s website, stated: “I think he’s a very great player and I think he feels different when the pressure is higher. When it’s a big moment, he can feel – I don’t know if it’s more motivation or something different, but we know in special moments he’s always ready. He will be very important for us.”
Varane has a track record of European success, having helped Real Madrid achieve four titles in a decade at the Bernabeu, along with a rare ‘threepeat’ between 2016 and 2018. And he loves the competition’s drama and magic, having watched it since he was a child.