Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo practices during training session in Kratovo.
AFP
Focus on Ronaldo as Portugal faces troubled Spain
(Agence France-Presse) - June 15, 2018 - 12:00am

SOCHI – Cristiano Ronaldo will launch his latest and probably last attempt to crown his career with a World Cup winner’s medal when European champion Portugal faces neighbor Spain in their opening World Cup game here on Friday.

The 33-year-old will lock horns with six of his Real Madrid teammates as the Spaniards attempt to shrug off the shock sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui following the announcement that he will take over at the Bernabeu next month.

It is worth wondering what Ronaldo might have known of Lopetegui’s imminent appointment at Real, given the relationship both have with Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes, at a time when the forward’s own club future remains the source of speculation.

But now, amid all that, Ronaldo’s focus is on the World Cup, the one major honor still missing from his CV.

It is a stretch to make Portugal one of the favorites to win the trophy, even with Ronaldo, but they are nevertheless in Russia as the reigning European champions after surprising France on home soil two years ago.

Ronaldo is 33 now, still in fantastic physical condition and the reigning Ballon d’Or winner. He can probably play on for as long as he wants, but it is hard to imagine him returning for a fifth World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

If he is to cap his career with a World Cup winner’s medal, then now is his time, and what better way to start than by inspiring Portugal to victory over its neighbor and put themselves in pole position in Group B.

“Of course Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world at the moment and he will be the top player at this World Cup. There are no words to describe him,” said admiring teammate Joao Mario at Portugal’s base near Moscow this week.

Ronaldo was playing the last time Portugal beat their rivals in a major tournament, winning 1-0 to eliminate Spain in the group stage at Euro 2004.

He was just 19 then, and has gone on to become his country’s leading scorer with 81 international goals. 

CRISTIANO RONALDO EUROPEAN CHAMPION WORLD CUP
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with