Ronaldo & Messi at the world cup
Russia 2018 is fast approaching and it’s the most magical time for a football fan, with nations across the globe putting aside the club mentality that has possessed them for the last nine months and coming together with one shared hope, that their country can win the World Cup.
For so many years, The World Cup has been a stage for big player performances. It’s a platform that has produced many superstars over the years and I expect Russia 2018 to be no different. Who will be this years James Rodriguez? Will anyone turn up to the extent that Ronaldo did in 2002, when he scored eight goals for Brazil as they lifted the trophy in Japan. Incidentally, it was actually Oliver Kahn who was awarded the highly-coveted Player of The Tournament award.
Two players that will be under the spotlight at this World Cup is Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, with many speculating that it could be the last time we see them both in an international tournament. Both players are not getting any younger and by the time Qatar 2022 comes around, the Portuguese forward will be thirty-seven years old. He’s always looked after his body, but even for him that would be some achievement.
Both players have had fine seasons, as they often do. As you can see by our stats, Messi has forty-five goals this season, just one more than Ronaldo, who has more than double the amount of Champions League goals this season. For the fourth year in a row, Messi has more assists than Ronaldo, who has been playing more as a central striker at times at Real Madrid under Zinadine Zidane.
Portugal will be confident given their recent Euro 2016 success, where they lifted the trophy despite winning just once in normal time and drawing their first three games. They showed that there’s more than one way to win and they have been continuing that trend in the build-up to Russia, winning the last five games and picking up 2.20 points per game over the last fifteen. Despite this, they will still have a huge reliance on their captain, talisman and all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi, who is also his nations all-time top scorer, is surrounded by players of a much higher quality. In fact, some of the players left behind by Argentina, like Mauro Icardi, would walk into the Portugal starting eleven. However, they have had their own issues leading up to the World Cup and needed a hat-trick from Messi against Ecuador to ensure they were on the plane. They have won just seven of the last fifteen games, conceding a high number of goals. Augero, Dybala, Di Maria, Messi… With all this talent at the top of the pitch, it’s up to Jorge Sampaoli to ensure that they improve at the back if they’re to stand a good chance of progressing to the latter stages of the competition.
Both Portugal and Argentina will face some tough competition, with the former being dropped into a group with neighbours Spain, one of the early favourites for the whole competition. Who do you think will progress further in Russia, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?