Cristiano Ronaldo netted a header in the fourth minute that wound up being the difference-maker in Portugal‘s one-nil victory over Morocco after scoring a hat-trick in the World Cup Classic first game in Group B against arch-rival Spain. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is on the brink of elimination with his Argentina squad after they were thumped three-nil at the hands of Crotia yesterday in Russia.
A tale of two extremes for two of the best in the world who are often compared to one another in arguments across the globe. I have, and will always be Team Ronaldo all the way. Take my Portuguese pride and heritage out of the picture for one moment, but Ronaldo is a superstar that can do it all on the pitch. No disrespect to Messi, but he’s done it all for one super-team in his career and still run into his fare share of troubles and slumps, while Ronaldo has thrived for multiple clubs and on the national club level.
Ronaldo came through the ranks of Portugal for Sporting then took the Premier League by storm as a young upstart for Manchester United winning the league three times before being sold for a record fee (at the time) to Spain’s Real Madrid. Ronaldo has since won the Spanish La Liga twice as a member of Madrid and more impressively has reigned as the champion of Europe always coming up in the big moments. Real Madrid is coming off back-to-back-to-back victories in the Champions League, a goal and aspiration every club in Europe strives for each season, and has four total with the club as well as one with Man U. Ronaldo was a key piece and player in Portugal’s run up to the UEFA European Championship win in 2016 and even though he was injured in the final, the Portuguese were able to beat the French in a hard-fought defensive battle.
Now with four points through the first two games and a slate coming on Monday against Iran, Portugal is on its way to a berth in the round-of-16 coming out of their group along with Spain. Meanwhile Argentina and Messi are on the cusp of elimination with just one point through the first two games while Cristiano Ronaldo continues his magnificent form on the pitch. “He’s like a fine port wine,” Portugal Coach Fernando Santos said of his 33-year-old striker. “He knows how to refine his game. He is constantly evolving. He knows what he can do. He knows himself and he knows how to improve himself.”
With a solid supporting cast, many of those returning from the Euro League Championship in ’16, Portugal led by Ronaldo could very well stand a good chance of capturing the World Cup this summer in Russia. With the steady Rui Patricio in net, veteran Joao Moutinho and Bernardo Silva holding down the midfield and the experienced Pepe in the back, Portugal has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the giants in this tournament. Case and point the see-saw game against the Spanish. I will continue to enjoy the skill and magnificent performances from the best player in the world, and you should too. Just check out the highlights from his hat-trick against Spain, it’s jaw-dropping stuff, especially the final goal of the day that proved to be the equalizer.