Feb 5, 2013, 8:31 AM EST
We are talking about Cristiano Ronaldo because the man turns 28 today.
It’s a poignant day, in some ways, because one of the very best of an entire generation is now into career mid-life. Most observers of the game would call him the second best player in the universe; Real Madrid’s scoring ace is truly that special.
So why poignant? Because barring an injury to Barcelona rival Leo Messi, this Portuguese force, this top man in a generation, will never be the considered the world’s best. At present, there’s a fairly sizeable gap between Nos. 1 and 2. In a nutshell, Ronaldo approaches and breaks records; Messi obliterates them.
Considering Ronaldo pretty much is what he is at 28, and considering the 25-year-old Messi may not have quite reached the tip-top of his performance arc, there’s little chance of a place swap here.
Still, Ronaldo is a wonder, and his team is fabulously talented. And they begin an enormous home-and-away series next week as Champions League reaches Round-of -16 knockout play.
The highlight of the round sees Ronaldo’s former team, mighty Manchester United, facing his current team, Real Madrid.
Next week’s first leg (Feb. 13) will take place at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. What Ronaldo – Again, Happy Birthday, dude! – told UEFA’s Champions League magazine about the matchup:
I believe things will go well. In my opinion Real Madrid have a better team, but we have to show that on the pitch because United are a very united team and always have been in recent years. They’re a team that always do well, every year they’re at the top and therefore a team we respect a lot. It will be an extremely difficult match, especially in Manchester.”
Dec 8, 2013, 2:51 PM EST
Roma’s enormous win, fueled by Mattia Destro’s winner in his season debut, gave the Giallorossi a vital three to keep pace with Juventus and extend their distance from Napoli.
Dec 8, 2013, 2:23 PM EST
Wenger believes consistency will be the key, but can Arsenal learn from previous campaigns and not shot themselves in the foot?
Dec 8, 2013, 12:59 PM EST
Mesut Ozil gave Arsenal the lead with just 10 minutes to go, but Gerard Deulofeu broke Arsenal fans hearts not long after.
Dec 8, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
The North London Derby gets a third chapter this season as the two sides will face off in the FA Cup third round. See the complete draw results here:
Dec 8, 2013, 10:33 AM EST
Dimitar Berbatov looked like a changed man and Steve Sidwell scored as well to give Fulham their first win in seven weeks.
Dec 8, 2013, 10:31 AM EST
Arsene Wenger has the Gunners flying high at the top of the league, with a chance for another impressive win against Everton to put them 7 points clear.
Dec 8, 2013, 9:14 AM EST
Fulham are well on their way to ending a run of six consecutive defeats.
Dec 8, 2013, 8:36 AM EST
It’s slowly coming out that David Moyes has been keeping an eye on summer target Kevin Strootman of Roma.
Dec 8, 2013, 7:50 AM EST
Can Rene Meulensteen breathe life into Dimitar Berbatov and a weary Fulham squad, or will it be Villa’s away day magic that continues to shine bright at Craven Cottage?
Dec 7, 2013, 11:05 PM EST
We’ll know in the next few days:
Dec 7, 2013, 11:00 PM EST
Can the Gunners stretch their lead at the summit? Will Fulham stop the rot? Both games live on NBCSN:
Dec 7, 2013, 10:00 PM EST
Experience was key early, set pieces came back to haunt them, and nobody will remember how you lost.
Dec 7, 2013, 9:28 PM EST
A few take-aways from Sporting Kansas City’s side on the clubs’ MLS Cup triumph Saturday over Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park:
Dec 7, 2013, 9:01 PM EST
Both coaches said so after Saturday’s exciting match:
Dec 7, 2013, 8:35 PM EST
Sporting Kansas City’s center back scored a goal in the run of play and then nailed a beauty of a penalty kick:
Dec 7, 2013, 7:45 PM EST
Round-by-round as Sporting Kansas City wins MLS Cup 2013 in a 10-round penalty kick tiebreaker.
Dec 7, 2013, 7:35 PM EST
KANSAS CITY – After 10 rounds of penalty kicks, Major League Soccer has a 2013 champion.
Dec 7, 2013, 6:22 PM EST
NBC’s Arlo White and Graeme Le Saux break down Manchester City’s tie with Southampton on Saturday:
Dec 7, 2013, 5:19 PM EST
What a huge days for the Potters; hear what the club’s U.S. international right back has to say about it:
Dec 7, 2013, 4:20 PM EST
Obviously, this is also the coldest kickoff for an MLS championship match … by a long, long way, in fact:
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