If there's one thing sports fans love more than sports, its arguing. It seems that any kind of performance from any athlete these days has to be put into context of his or her predecessor or contemporary. "Yeah, this is good," we all say, "but is it as good as that."
In soccer, there's a constant discussion between Cristiano Ronaldo and his eternal rival Lionel Messi for supremacy as the world's best player, and for positioning in the list of all-time greats. Following Ronaldo's spearheading of a third UEFA Champions League title in four years with a 4-1 victory over Juventus on Saturday -- the fourth UCL title of his career, same as Messi -- that debate will surely ratchet up a notch.
And there will be a time and place for that debate. For now, let it go. Ronaldo was amazing on Saturday, and in general during this Champions League campaign. He's an absolute legend and a joy to watch on the pitch.
Let's take a look at some of the gaudy numbers he's put up, without the semi-obligatory Messi comparisons. His second goal on Saturday was his 600th for club and country. He's one of two players to score in three European Cup finals. He's the top scorer in the Champions League for the sixth time in his career. His 105 Champions League goals is the most all-time.
Regardless of who you compare him to the answer is the same: Ronaldo is one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of boots. Period.
Ronaldo opened the scoring on Saturday with a fantastic counter-attacking goal in the 20th minute, Madrid's first chance of the match. His movement stretched what is usually an unbreakable Juventus back line. His shot squeezed through the defense and past the outstretched arm of Juve keeper Gigi Buffon for the 1-0 lead.
Ronaldo's second came with a 2-1 lead in hand thanks to a goal from Casemiro only a few minutes earlier to put the match on ice, and it displayed how the Madrid star has changed his game this season to somehow get even better.
Ronaldo has always been known for his ability to run straight at a defense. That or his defiant stance over a free kick before hitting a belter above or around the wall. But this year he's become a true target man, a poacher who slinks around the box and nicks goals from almost nothing. In the 61st minute, he made a run to the near post and put the most subtle flick on a cross for the brace, guaranteeing back-to-back Champions League titles for Los Blancos.
Putting four goals on this Juventus defense is a testament to how brilliant Real Madrid's attacking force is, and it all flows through Ronaldo. His presence changes everything. It allowed Madrid to attack and attack the Juve backline, bringing the game to them instead of letting the defense dictate play. Quite frankly, Ronaldo broke Juventus.
Smoke 'em if you've got 'em, Juve fans. pic.twitter.com/7ET0E5AkKL- Deadspin (@Deadspin) June 3, 2017
You would probably need a smoke, too.
So let those Ronaldo-Messi comparisons breathe for a moment, and appreciate the brilliance Ronaldo has given us over his career.
Watching the match, I was reminded of my favorite passage from Soccer In Sun and Shadow by world soccer's poet laureate Eduardo Galeano:
Years have gone by and I've finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer. I go about the world, hand outstretched, and in the stadiums I plead: "A pretty move, for the love of God."
I'm also a beggar for good soccer, and Cristiano Ronaldo has always filled my cup.
Cy Brown writes about soccer and other stuff for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.