If there was a player you expected to light up the World Cup in Russia this year, it was Cristiano Ronaldo, and he’s done just that so far in both of Portugal’s Group B fixtures.
The first, a 3-3 draw with Spain, saw Ronaldo bag a stunning hat-trick which saw him fly to the top of the goalscoring charts. He was at it again against Monaco too in Portugal’s slender 1-0 victory, scoring the winner after just four minutes.
In many respects, you could say that without Ronaldo the current European Champions look distinctively average. Against Morocco, Portugal was beaten in the possession stakes and their opponents also had more shots and shots on target. Portugal has relied on their talisman for a number of years now, there’s no denying that, and from their eight shots, it was the 33-year-old who struck six of them.
It’s possible that this will be Ronaldo’s last World Cup campaign with Portugal, with the next one taking place when he’s 37, and he’s certainly putting a show on for all the world to see in Russia as he looks to single handily drive Portugal to success. The Real Madrid star is currently the top scorer in the competition with 4 goals from 2 games with many predicting that this World Cup would see him go head to head against longtime rival Lionel Messi of Argentina.
There’s long been a debate about which of the two is the greatest footballer, but Messi and his Argentina side are on the brink of an early exit after being thumped 3-0 by Croatia in what was dubbed a must-win game. This leaves the door open for Ronaldo to go on and make the World Cup all about him, with Iran next up for Portugal. A win would see them in with a great chance of topping Group B as they look to add the World Cup trophy to their European Championship crown.
Ronaldo has always been at his best when he’s the centre of attention and after the first week of the tournament, he’s been the stand out player. There’s no doubting that Portugal really needs to step their game up if they are to go far in this tournament as they can’t rely solely on Ronaldo. Against Morocco, Portugal really lacked any sort of attacking edge and they didn’t look too good defensively either.
Fernando Santos has already called on his team to step it up in terms of possession. Following the Morocco game he said, “It’s a World Cup. This is a strong team, as were Morocco, but we have to grow. He went on to say, “We did well defensively and we played well, but we need more than that. We have to change and earn more possession.” That will certainly be music to Ronaldo’s ears as it will likely lead to him getting more chances in front of goal as he looks to cover himself in glory once again.