Ronaldo returns to Madrid: Cristiano out to continue record as Atletico’s tormentor-in-chief
While Ronaldo was in town back in January for a court date, Wednesday will be his first time playing in the Spanish capital since he left Real in the summer for a €100 million (US$117 million) switch to Juventus.
The prolific Portuguese striker heads into Wednesday's tie on something of a hot-streak, leading the way in the Serie A scoring charts on 19 goals from 24 games.
But it’s his record against Atletico from his nine years at Real which will make the most ominous reading for Simeone and Co. when he lines up against them at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium on Wednesday night.
Stats compiled at Omnisport show the 34-year-old found the net 22 times in 31 appearances for Real against Atletico – making him the Madrid derby’s all-time top scorer.
He was on the winning side in 15 of those games, drawing eight and losing eight.
Ten of those 22 goals came away from home, and the overall tally includes three hat-tricks.
Ronaldo has also been unerringly accurate from the penalty spot against Atleti, scoring eight out of eight spot-kicks.
In addition, he has turned provider on five occasions against the Madrid team.
Ronaldo has helped pile most misery on Atletico in the Champions League, where he faced them six times with Real, winning five of those encounters.
He scored a late penalty in the 4-1 extra-time win in the Champions League final in Lisbon in 2014.
The forward was also the penalty hero when he scored the winning spot-kick in the shootout against Atletico to clinch the title in Milan in 2016.
Ronaldo’s most recent Champions League goals against the men in red and white came in the semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu in 2017, when he netted a hat-trick.
The Portuguese superstar famously won four Champions League titles with Real – adding to the one he claimed with Manchester United – and will be desperate to boost that haul for Juve.
The Old Lady have been the bridesmaid rather than the bride in their past five finals in Europe’s showpiece club tournament, and last won the competition in 1996.
Ronaldo will be the spearhead of their campaign this time around, and an incredible 60 of his 121 Champions League goals have come in the knockout stages of the competition.
While he will be in the unfamiliar colors of his new Turin club on Wednesday, he will pose an all-too-familiar threat to the Atletico backline.
SCHALKE FACE PEP'S CITY SLICKERS
Elsewhere in the Champions League on Wednesday, Schalke 04 host Manchester City in a game the Premier League champions will be heavily backed to win.
Pep Guardiola’s men have been in blistering form recently after a mid-season wobble, notably hammering Chelsea 6-0 just over a week ago in a performance which saw them at their fluid best.
While they have yet to reproduce their best football in Europe’s top club competition, they are establishing the kind of experience they once lacked at the business end of the tournament with semi-final and quarter-final appearances in recent seasons.
Many are tipping City to challenge for the Champions League title this season, and they will be heavily fancied to see off a Schalke team languishing in 14th in the Bundesliga.