Cristiano Ronaldo is big enough and certainly ugly enough to handle a lot of criticism thrown his way. Especially when he’s one of the best footballers to have ever graced this planet that we call Earth. His sweet feet were too much for Roma’s players to handle last week as Manchester United coasted to a 2-0 win in Italy, prompting green-eyed comments from David Pizarro such as “very arrogant” and a “bighead”.
Now the Roma coach has realised that his team have to face the Portuguese superstar again and The Guardian have reported that he’s all sweetness and smiles. Perhaps he’s suddenly become aware that the Romans lost this fixture 7-1 last season, something that was a teeny bit humiliating.
Yet Roma coach Luciano Spalletti struck a diplomatic tone ahead of tonight’s return leg at Old Trafford. “Some of the things that were said after the game were perhaps said in the heat of the moment because we had the bitter taste of defeat in our mouths,” he admitted. “Our comments had the bitterness of defeat in them. We were disappointed after the game and sometimes in those situations you say things you normally would not. That is what happened here. Cristiano Ronaldo is an excellent player. He is a very exuberant player and a very fair player and has shown that many times.”
It’s clear that the Italian title challengers will have to shackle the Manchester United number seven if they are to somehow qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League tonight. An early goal would certainly make things interesting, although it’s hard not to see United scoring at least once and similarly difficult to see Roma managing three.