Leo Messi’s international retirement can inspire Cristiano Ronaldo to Euro 2016 glory with PortugalPublished June 28, 2016
The Cristiano Ronaldo v Leo Messi debate is one of the biggest conundrums in world football.
Over the past ten years, football fans across the world have watched with admiration and amazement as the two global football icons have claimed countless individual accolades, and amassed a number of trophies at club level.
Yet despite their domestic dominance, it is their lack of success on the international stage, which has stopped people short of calling either man the greatest footballer of all time.
Argentina and Portugal share many similarities in terms of their recent history, and whilst Argentina have gone twenty-three years without a major trophy, Portugal are still seeking their first ever major honour.
But in the wake of Leo Messi’s surprising retirement from international football, following Argentina’s Copa America loss to Chile, Cristiano Ronaldo must sense the opportunity that awaits him.
Despite a poor showing during the first two group games at Euro 2016, the Portuguese captained inevitably showed up to the party, and produced two goals and one assist to save his country from a group stage exit three times against Hungary on Thursday. In doing so, the 31-year-old, became the first player to score at four consecutive European Championships.
The result in Lyon, was followed up with a rather surprising last 16 victory over Croatia, leaving Fernando Santos’ side only two games away from an unexpected final, and with a winnable encounter against Poland up next on Thursday night, this really could be Ronaldo’s moment to thrive in the spotlight once more.
It was only a month ago that the 30-year-old grabbed the headlines, after his decisive spot-kick in Italy, sent Atletico keeper Jan Oblak the wrong way to seal Real Madrid’s eleventh European trophy.
For the Portuguese icon, to score the last goal of the European campaign, was symbolic, an act of defiance to all his critics claiming that he is now past his peak.
But in the wake of Leo Messi recent revelation, the next three weeks represents so much more than just proving his critics wrong.
Despite a historic and illustrious career, there has been a certain Argentine number 10 shaped cloud hanging over Ronaldo’s head over the last decade.
But if Cristiano can achieve European Championship glory with Portugal this summer, then maybe, just maybe, the Real Madrid galactico can finally stand alone as the greatest in the world, and perhaps the greatest of all time.
The magnitude of such individual acclaim may be too much for the self-proclaimed greatest of his generation to pass up.
Expect to see Cristiano Ronaldo motivated and fired up like never before come kick-off at the Stade Vélodrome on Thursday night.