They say there’s no such thing as a one man team. And they’d be right. But when you’ve Cristiano Ronaldo captaining your side it’s about as close as you’re going to get. The Real Madrid star has somehow, impossibly, hit even heavier heights this year, and what’s more exciting is that the World Cup still beckons.
Portugal just scraped through the World Cup qualifiers to set up their flight to Rio, with the Ballon d’Or winner scoring four goals in a tense play-off versus Sweden. And four goals at least will no doubt be on his mind again when they kick off their campaign on June 16 in the ‘Group of Death’.
The 29-year-old has had a chequered past in the competition with the fracas between himself and Wayne Rooney during the 2006 World Cup making him public enemy number one with Three Lions fans, whilst in the same game he scored the winning penalty to send his nation through to the semi-finals.
Eight years on and that’s largely forgotten. The exciting talent of Ronaldo is loved by most, his sheer determination to be the best not only fills fans with admiration, but opposing defenders with dread. And with the Germans, Ghanaians and Americans making up the rest of Group G, which could be vitally important.
There’s no doubt Germany will be big favourites for the group with Paulo Bento’s men shortly behind, but with Ronnie leading from the front, against a side with a leaky defence, Portugal odds of 20/1 to lift world football’s biggest prize could prove to be a very tempting price.
There is no guarantee that the Mediterranean side should get through the group stage however, if they manage to proceed that should set up what should be an easier Second Round tie with Belgium, Russia or South Korea. And from then on, one moment of magic from the leader could take Portugal all the way.
Ronaldo has in the past produced on big occasions for his country, his hat-trick against the Swedes in November only goes to prove that, whilst a run of games in Brazil, which could potentially see them avoid any more big guns until the semi-finals , could make them serious contenders.
They say there is no such thing as a one man team. And they would be right. William Carvalho, Miguel Veloso and Joao Moutinho are all good players on the world stage, but alongside a man who has chalked up 28 La Liga goals this season, he that could power them deep into the latter stages of Rio.