There are not too many sides that can claim to have contained the five-time Ballon d’Or winner down the years but Chievo managed that feat on Saturday
Cristiano Ronaldo, Leeds United, Chievo – five words that you will rarely see in the same sentence, but there is a rare bond which binds them.
There are not too many teams that can claim to have contained the Portuguese superstar and modern day icon – particularly in league competition, where paths have a tendency to cross on a regular basis – but a select few are able to put that achievement on their respective CVs.
Two members of that club are mentioned above but another seven sides make the list, and only one of those can claim to have faced Ronaldo on more than two occasions – which makes their efforts all the more impressive.
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Given that a five-time Ballon d’Or winner has recorded 573 club goals over the course of a remarkable career, it should come as no great surprise to find that he has proved to be a thorn in the side of the vast majority of opponents he has faced.
The fact that he took eight Premier League games to open his account for Manchester United following a high-profile switch in 2003 is slightly more surprising and the then teenager’s understandably slow adjustment to life in England allowed two of the teams in his book of blanks to secure their spot on a notable roll of honour.
Leeds are one of those, although they did suffer a 1-0 defeat on the only occasion that they have faced Ronaldo to date – so he can still claim to have had the last laugh.
Wolves came unstuck by the same scoreline a few weeks prior to the aforementioned fixture at Elland Road, but went one better in January 2004 when securing a shock 1-0 win over the Red Devils at Molineux.
Having opened his account against Portsmouth in November 2003, Ronaldo would then go another 10 games before finding the target again in a derby date with Manchester City – an early indicator that he would be a man for the big occasion.
The barren run prior to that included a first top-flight outing against Chelsea, and it is they who appear to have stumbled across a magic formula that would be worth millions if they were able to bottle it.
Ronaldo never notched against the Blues during his time in the Premier League (seven games) – or in Community Shield, FA Cup and League Cup outings against the west London outfit – but, again, he did save his best for when it mattered most and can point to a crucial Champions League final header in any argument regarding an anomaly on his stunning goal chart.
Sheffield United – against whom he once famously scooped over the top from a matter of inches out – also kept the Portuguese at bay across two matches, while Crystal Palace, Norwich and Leicester managed to do the same in solitary outings.
It was once Ronaldo left England, though, that he took the art of goalscoring to even greater heights, with his record in La Liga almost faultless.
Given his endless drive for perfection, the fact that he departed Spain over the summer having failed to net against only one top-flight opponent is likely to rankle with him.
That opponent was lowly Leganes – although he can console himself with the fact that he only faced them on a one occasion, with Real running out 3-0 winners in November 2016.
The 33-year-old’s record in Serie A with Juventus now includes as many collective blanks as he managed across nine years in Madrid, with a debut outing in front of a global audience on Saturday seeing him endure a rare off day.
Therefore, despite losing 3-2 on the day, Chievo have become the latest side to join the Ronaldo blank club.
It remains to be seen whether they can stay there as, unlike the Leeds and Leganes’ of this world, they know that the most fearsome frontman of this or any other generation will have them back in his sights before too long – with a return date at the Allianz Stadium pencilled in for January 20.