It has been quite the season so far for Cristiano Ronaldo, who is setting records at Real Madrid and has fired the Santiago Bernabeu side to the top of La Liga. The attacker has been caught in a personal battle with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi over the last four to five years in the debate of who the best player in the world is. The Argentine superstar has a slight edge over CR7 and has won the Ballon d’Or three years running, however with neither player replicating stellar club form on the international stage, Ronaldo has a chance to claw back some ground on his nemesis by leading Portugal to glory this summer.
The Portuguese forward’s performances for Los Blancos have been nothing short of phenomenal this season, with the 27-year-old setting history as he goes. Ronaldo has reached 100 La Liga goals for the Spanish capital-city side in 92 matches, which is less games than anyone else in the club’s illustrious history. If he scores against Mallorca and Barcelona in two of Madrid’s remaining fixtures he will have hit the net against every other team in the division in the space of one season. He has also powered into the outfit’s top 10 all-time goalscorers, and is the driving force behind Madrid’s quest for success this season.
With the level of his personal performances alone, Portugal may well be a dark horse for Euro 2012 this summer. That said, the Iberian nation have failed to deliver on the international stage since the days of Eusebio, and the generation of world-beaters in the 1990’s and 2000’s comprising the likes of Rui Costa, Luis Figo and Joao Pinto have long-retired.
Despite have a gifted squad at his disposal, Portugal coach Paulo Bento will do very well to satisfy the country’s supporters in Ukraine and Poland. With Ronaldo at the heart of their attack, the nation will have to overcome a devastatingly difficult group comprising Germany, Netherlands and Denmark to even get to the knockout rounds. The likes of Fabio Coentrao, Nani, Joao Moutinho, etc will help Ronaldo in his mission to drive the nation to success, but, on paper, Portugal will struggle to get out of Group B.
However, this may well be the perfect opportunity for Ronaldo to take the next step in his career, to achieve greatness and be rightfully spoken of in the same regard as Pele, Diego Maradona and his arch-enemy Lionel Messi. Both of the retired South American stars led their nations to World Cup glories, something that the current Camp Nou star has not achieved; by surpassing expectations this summer and leading Portugal to Euro 2012 glory, Ronaldo could achieve the international recognition that Messi has not yet received.
Published – MIUsoccer