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Rory McIlroy (above).
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Ronaldo and Tevez - from friends to foes

Once teammates, Tevez and Ronaldo will be plotting each other's downfall in Turin

PRIME PLAYERS: Neither Ronaldo's Real Madrid nor Tevez's (above) Juventus can win without their main man.
PRIME PLAYERS: Neither Ronaldo's (above) Real Madrid nor Tevez's Juventus can win without their main man.



(Tomorrow, 2.40am, Singtel TV Ch 111)

On a cool night in Moscow, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez once delivered the Champions League for each other.

In 2008, they shared a Manchester United jersey and insatiable ambition. They divided their responsibilities and conquered.

Tevez failed to score during the European final against Chelsea, but Ronaldo did. Ronaldo missed his penalty during the shootout, but Tevez converted.

They bore the burden together, winning their first Champions League medals.

Both men will again share a Champions League pitch tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The quest remains the same, but the responsibilities are very different. They are greater.

Neither Ronaldo's Real Madrid nor Tevez's Juventus can win without their main man.

Since they left United, their paths deviated, with varying degrees of success along the way, but they meet again at a roadblock. Only this time, the barrier is the other man.

Both Ronaldo and Tevez spearhead sides whose continental progress has been facilitated in large part by the meanest defences.

In the Champions League, Real Madrid are miserly masters on the road, keeping out all and sundry for 444 minutes of playing time. The last side to breach the back four was Ludogorets Razgrad on Oct 1.

The Italian side are no less impressive. Across 10 games, they shipped five goals and kept six clean sheets. For good measure, they wrapped up the Serie A at the weekend with only 19 goals in their against column after 34 games.

Defensive errors are like Halley's Comet. They do exist, but are rarely witnessed.

The onus is on former United colleagues to break the deadlock. Fortunately, both forwards are in the form of their lives.

Ronaldo scores with the freedom of a Hollywood actor playing a superhero, doing as he pleases against a green screen backdrop before his CGI opponents are drawn in later.

He goes past them as if they are not really there, the only moving part on a screen filled with static fakes.

At the weekend, Ronaldo beat Sevilla on his own, scoring twice to knock them down and then adding a third when they had the temerity to fight back.


In his cartoonish scoring competition with Lionel Messi, Ronaldo leads with 42 in La Liga, two ahead of the Argentinian. Both are moving beyond logic and into a computer game of their own making, scoring whenever the mood takes them.

But Juventus' back four are an entirely different proposition, defending their wall like over-zealous extras in Game of Thrones.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri rested Giorgio Chiellini for the title-deciding victory over Sampdoria to ensure his veteran was ready to resume his outstanding partnership with Leonardo Bonucci.

Ronaldo didn't score against Atletico Madrid in the previous round, but he did finally break them down after three hours of trying, providing the killer ball for Javier Hernandez's tap-in.

Turin offers a sterner test still, as it did for Tevez when he joined Juventus.

His initial outings at the Grand Old Lady two years ago were dismissed as foolish blind dates between old-timers, with an ageing man in a pitiful search for his lost mojo.

Tevez was a washed-up whiner when he slipped out of Manchester City, out of sight and soon out of mind; a bittersweet experience for both parties.

The then 30-year-old was reportedly finished; an insufferable brat banished from both club and country.

But the unexpected happened. Tevez didn't reinvent himself. He regressed. He returned to that scampering, irrepressible, likable terrier; the little battler who once kept West Ham in the Premier League and steered Manchester United towards Champions League glory.

The incredible sulk of Manchester City vanished and the penalty box workaholic nicknamed "Apache" appeared in his place.

With 20 Serie A goals, the 31-year-old should be the first Juventus player to finish top scorer since Alessandro del Piero in 2008.


His prolific form steered Juve to a fourth consecutive Scudetto and earned a recall to the Argentina national side.

Right now, Tevez represents his club's best chance of nipping behind Real's defence.

Teammate Patrice Evra recognises this incarnation of the Apache. He played in the Champions League final with him for United.

So did Ronaldo.

And, as it was in Moscow, this Champions League contest will be determined by the narrowest of margins.

It's up to Ronaldo and Tevez to squeeze between the lines.

But, on this occasion, there's only room for one.









Shots per game


Pass success









Shots per game


Pass success


Tags: Football