"We can't leave Cristiano Ronaldo alone," said Jurgen Klopp ahead of Borussia Dortmund's Champions League semifinal at the Westfalenstadion, singling out Real Madrid's most obvious threat (via Goal.com).
Mario Gotze is certainly a fan, too. "Me, the German Messi? No," he said (via Marca), "I want to be the German Cristiano Ronaldo."
The attacking midfielder—who's impending transfer to Bayern Munich caused quite the uproar this week—is no Ronaldo yet.
His team, on the other hand—for the third time this season—demonstrated that their aims are much higher than merely standing side by side with teams like Real Madrid.
Klopp may yet live to regret the brief moment his side did allow the Portuguese forward to be alone, Mats Hummels' mistake was punished by the alert Gonzalo Higuain and the unmarked Ronaldo who sprinted forward to tap home.
At 4-1 though, it will take a special night in the Spanish capital to make it seem like an away goal worth its weight in gold.
The 28-year-old started on the left of the triumvirate situated behind Higuain, and his discipline to that role in the first 20 minutes contributed to his lack of involvement:
When his first sight of goal came in the 23rd minute, it wasn't from open play—a free kick from some distance drew a fine, if exaggerated, save from Roman Weidenfeller
Little else came from the feet or the head of Madrid's No. 7 until he restored parity just before half time.
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Goooooooooool de CRISTIANO RONALDO (R. Madrid) vs Dortmund (1-1) >>> http://t.co/DEND2OwVsN4/24/2013, 7:29:23 PM
A minute later, the showboat was out as he took on the Dortmund defense—one of two occasions on which he successfully did on the night (via CNN)—and it looked as if we were set for another one-man parade.
His 12th goal in Europe, during a season which has yielded 51 now, looked to be the catalyst on which he and Los Blancos would kick on.
The script didn't develop like that though, Klopp's men were true to Klopp's word; Ronaldo was denied space.
There were occasions when he looked to spark some life into Madrid, like when he cut inside to tee up Luka Modric or when some fancy footwork led to a decent cross.
His passing when in possession was poor, though. He completed just 26 of his 40 passes and it is perhaps surprising how little he strayed from his position on the left.
Lukasz Piszczek was lauded for his role in stifling Ronaldo when the two sides met in the group stages, and it would have been interesting to see how the Portuguese would have fared were he shifted centrally or to the right, where Mesut Ozil was a square peg in a round hole.
Despite his goal it was never likely to be his night in Germany, not through glaring faults of his own though; Wednesday night belonged to Borussia Dortmund.