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For a team that rewrote the history books by becoming the first side to successfully reclaim the Champions League title, Real Madrid have had a less than salubrious campaign this season.
The bravado and fierce urgency that saw them cover every blade of grass last season has been amiss in the current campaign, ineluctably swinging the pendulum of power to longstanding rivals Barcelona who have quite simply been unplayable under the stewardship of Ernesto Valverde.
For one Cristiano Ronaldo however, the Champions League holds the greatest significance.
Crestfallen in La Liga
Real Madrid registered a sluggish start this season, much of it due to relative burnout and their participation in the FIFA Club World Cup. Although taking part in the World Championship never hampered their progress last season, it has come at a price this time round.
The Los Blancos have been dethroned of their La Liga crown by an imperious Barca side and, as if that were not enough, are fourth on the log; a mindboggling 17 points adrift of the leaders.
Although Ronaldo was rested for the encounter, defeat at the hands of Leganes in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey was not part of the plot, leaving the Madrid outfit with everything to play for in the Champions League.
Best Player Award
Whether be it the FIFA Men’s Player Award or the defunct Ballon d’Or, Cristiano Ronaldo simply wants to be acknowledged as the best footballer on the planet.
One way of meriting that is through claiming the most coveted prize in European Club competition; the Champions League.
The Portuguese underlined his dominance at the stage and championed for the cause as he scored a brace that guided Real Madrid to an emphatic 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.
For as long as he stays fit, the 33-year old is in it to win it, for the Champions League is a means to a highly coveted end.
Written by Brian Humphrey
Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum
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