Real Sociedad defender explains what it is like playing against Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester United’s defeat to Real Sociedad was a miserable night for the home side, and a historic result for the visiting Spaniards.
Their first ever win over United was celebrated joyously by the visiting fans and players alike.
Cristiano Ronaldo also suffered his first ever defeat against Real Sociedad, having won all previous nine matches against them with Real Madrid.
Sociedad defender Jon Pacheco was one of the stars, a 21-year-old making his first ever Europa League start due to an injury to Robin Le Normand.
What it is like playing against Cristiano Ronaldo
Pacheco was given a huge task as an inexperienced defender, to go up against superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo had scored an incredible 15 goals in his nine games against Real Sociedad before Thursday’s game, a record to spook any centre-back.
But Pacheco has admitted to Marca that while he was daunted to play against Ronaldo, he found the reality to be not nearly as scary.
He said: “Yes it is true that it impresses, but more before the game, when you see that you are going to play against Cristiano Ronaldo.
“But then on the field you do not look so much at who he is and you only think about doing your job well.”
Pacheco’s advice sounds straightforward, and that’s because defending against Ronaldo was remarkably ‘normal’ for him.
Gone are the days where Ronaldo will leave defenders trailing in his dust, or wondering how on earth to stop him.
Now 37, Ronaldo looks alarmingly mortal, as Pacheco proved. He won three of four aerial duels he contested, made three interceptions and blocked one shot.
Ronaldo was disappointing against Sociedad, making his first start in a month, and failing to score. He was high on effort and low on quality.
Years ago defender would have been daunted about facing Ronaldo, and would get on the pitch and see they were right to be worried.
Pacheco’s comments show that the thought of playing against Ronaldo is becoming the only frightening part of facing him.
The Manchester United star will want to change this, but time and opportunity is unlikely to be on his side. For the first time in a long while, the signs of a decline are beginning to hit home.