Making use of their spot in the Champions League final now confirmed and a top-four devote the Premier League all but secured, Liverpool’s attentions tend turning towards their opponents in the last – Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants have won the past two Champions League titles, and if Jurgen Klopp wants to be the man to prevent them making that three in a row, he needs to complete a very important factor above all else – find a method to stop Cristiano Ronaldo.
CR7 is really a force of nature in regards to the Champions League – even in what’s been considered a weaker season by his standards, he’s still delivered in an outrageous way – scoring 15 goals in 12 appearances. He isn’t completely unstoppable, though – and if Klopp wants to prevent him doing damage against Liverpool, he could have a leaf from the books of those 5 bosses.
Given how ubiquitous both men are with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, it’s quite hard to believe that Ronaldo only faced a Guardiola-managed Barca six times in La Liga action (although both faced off in other competitions on other occasions). And when it comes to league success against Ronaldo, no other manager can boast so much as Guardiola. His Barcelona team defeated Ronaldo’s Madrid in four of the six league meetings, with just one victory going Ronaldo’s way.
More impressively, Ronaldo only scored twice – once from the spot – against Pep’s men in La Liga action. So just how exactly did Guardiola stop the Portuguese phenomenon? Well, having probably the most effective club side in the real history of the game obviously helped – but so did Guardiola’s style of play at times.
Ronaldo’s first Clasico saw him largely stopped with a strong performance from Barca keeper Victor Valdes while Barca went on to win the game 1-0, while his second – a 2-0 defeat – saw him starved of service because of the midfield dominance of Xavi.
It had been Barca’s thumping 5-0 win over Ronaldo’s Madrid in 2010 that basically suggested that Pep had the Indian sign over CR7, though. With this occasion, Ronaldo was simply marked out from the game by defender Eric Abidal – who’d clearly been told to prevent the Portuguese at any cost – and was reduced to being truly a bit-part player in the game.
While Ronaldo finally managed to get one over Pep in the thing that was Guardiola’s final Clasico – he scored the winner over a jaded-looking Barca side in 2012 to simply help Madrid to capture the league title – it’s hard to deny the success Guardiola had over him.