By: Madison Parham
After starting off the World Cup with a 3-3 draw to Spain, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo has his team in a good position for a run in the tournament.
Ronaldo, deemed the best Portuguese player of all time by the Portuguese Football Federation in 2015, has been phenomenal for his country since debuting at age 18. Now, at age 33, he is Portugal’s highest goal scorer and most capped player. He won the Euros in 2016 but has failed three times to clinch a World Cup title.
The World Cup is a very critical piece in Ronaldo’s legacy going forward. He and Lionel Messi get compared regularly on who should be considered the greatest of all time, but neither one of them have won a World Cup. Can you be considered an all-time great
if you’ve never won soccer’s highest honor?
Ronaldo got close to winning in his first World Cup as Portugal lost 1-0 to France in the 2006 semifinals, but it has all been downhill from there for Portugal in World Cup play. In 2010 they were put out in the round of sixteen and then failed to even make it out of group play in the 2014 World Cup.
With Ronaldo getting older, the 2018 World Cup could be his last chance to make things right.
“Cristiano is a superman. He can play at another World Cup if he wants,” Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said. “But four more years at the highest level? To come back to the next World Cup I feel it will be hard.”
This may not be Ronaldo’s last World Cup, but it could be his last real chance to win one. There is no guarantee that he will return to Qatar in 2022 with a team as good as he has now, and there is definitely no guarantee that he will return still in his prime.
Even though Portugal is currently sitting at number four in the FIFA world rankings, they are still not a favorite to win the World Cup and Ronaldo knows it.
“This year for Portugal we are going to try to enjoy,” Ronaldo said in a recent interview with YouTuber Joltter. “We are not the favorites; we know that. We’re going there to try to compete and try our best to win.”
Ronaldo showed just how much he wanted to win in his first match against Spain. The much-anticipated matchup lived up to its hype. The game was back and forth from the first goal in the 4th minute to the last goal in the 8th minute.
Portugal managed to make it out with one point as Ronaldo became the oldest player to score a hat-trick in World Cup history. He also became the fourth player to score in four World Cups. His performance against Spain is already being considered one of his greatest performances.
If Portugal is going to win the World Cup trophy, Ronaldo must continue to provide his team with the kind of performance he gave against Spain. The hardest game of the group stage is out of the way for Portugal as they are now set to play Morocco on June 20th and Iran on June 25th