Cristiano Ronaldo has evolved across his decorated career in the beautiful game.
Ronaldo's career evolution
If we're speaking in broad strokes, the Juventus superstar has gradually transitioned from a bag of tricks on the left flank to a no-nonsense goalscorer through the heart of the defence.
Obviously, that's a complete simplification of things because Ronaldo still plays on the left-hand side from time to time, but there's no denying that he has become more of a poacher as he's aged.
It's a tactic that has helped him to maintain the mind-boggling goalscoring tallies that see him competing for Ballon d'Or trophies even as he creeps deeper and deeper into his thirties.
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Mourinho and Ronaldo at Real Madrid
And the Portuguese legend could have none other than Jose Mourinho to thank for this evolution with the soon-to-be AS Roma coach previously attributing himself as the instigator of this move.
That's because Mourinho claimed on what appears to be the Netflix documentary 'The Playbook', which was released in 2020, that he was the first coach to play Ronaldo as a number nine.
Well, by that we assume that the 'Special One' means from the start in a major game because no doubt Ronaldo will have migrated to the centre at some point in his Manchester United spell.
2011 Copa del Rey final
Nonetheless, footage of Mourinho talking through 'the first time that Ronaldo played as a number nine position' has gone viral on Twitter and that's because it happened to be a huge occasion.
However, Mourinho's decision to play Ronaldo through the middle during their cup meeting proved to be an inspired one with Los Blancos securing a 1-0 win courtesy of their star man up top.
Mourinho breaks down Ronaldo tactic
Those who remember the goal will know that Ronaldo playing as a number nine had a lot to do with things - brilliantly heading past José Manuel Pinto - and Mourinho had good reason for his gamble.
'What reason was that?' we hear you ask. Well, we couldn't possibly do the tactical breakdown justice in the way that Mourinho can, so be sure to check out the fascinating video down below:
We could listen to Mourinho talking about tactics all day. Genius.
A stroke of genius
Mourinho knew just how important Dani Alves pushing forward was to Barcelona's success under Guardiola and didn't want Ronaldo saddled with the task of constantly tracking him forward.
As such, Ronaldo was given the license to push through the middle with Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria pushing either side of him and no end of chances duly fell at his feet.
As the video shows, even a genius like Ronaldo couldn't crack it in the number nine position straight out of the traps but when it mattered most, the Real icon found the net with a stunning header.
And what makes the tactical move so remarkable is the fact that it was Guardiola's only career defeat in a final until this season's Champions League climax. They don't call him the 'Special One' for no reason.News Now - Sport News