Cristiano Ronaldo continues to give many of his remaining critics, including Sepp Blatter, plenty of proof of his brilliance that could finally capitulate him to his legendary status as the world’s best footballer.
This past Saturday, Ronaldo recorded another hat trick, this time at the expense of a disappointing display by the Real Sociedad defense. Madrid 5-1 victory over last season’s 4th place finishers in La Liga has given the superstar winger a staggering 24 goals already this season. With 16 goals in the Primera Division and eight goals in the Champions League, Ronaldo is hell bent on taking the prize of single season record for most goals scored from his eternal rival Lionel Messi in both competitions (50 in La Liga and 14 in the Champions League).
Ronaldo has already broken one of Messi’s records, the most goals scored in the Champions League for a single year, by recording his 14th goal in UEFA’s premier competition this year, passing the Catalan playmaker’s 13 in 2012.
In fact, combining goals for both Real Madrid and Portugal could have Ronaldo on pace to set a single season record for most goals scored for both club and country, especially with the injury troubles that seem to be a constant with the Argentine luminary this year.
The comedy fest gone wrong from Blatter a few weeks ago has further motivated CR7, even more so than Jose Mourinho stating who was the ‘real Ronaldo’ this past summer and just wanting to prove that he is indeed better than Messi.
He is hell bent on finally capturing his second FIFA Ballon D’or. But there is a major conundrum for Ronaldo’s campaign to recapture football’s top individual honor.
It’s more than the greatness of Messi or the continued growing campaign for Franck Ribery to be a wonderful alternative for people sick of the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly. It’s even more of a problem than any conspiracy Ronaldo and his agent may think about FIFA in regards to how they feel about his Argentina adversary and himself.
If Portugal fail to Sweden in the World Cup Playoffs and fail to make it to Brazil 2014, that devastating blow may be the thing that costs Cristiano the most to get back his former crown.
Ronaldo’s second half hat trick against Northern Ireland in Belfast saved his country from possibly not even making the playoffs in September, especially considering the embarrassing draw suffered at home to a resilient Israel side. But those three goals were the only tallies for Ronaldo this year in qualifiers for A Seleccao, as Ronaldo didn’t score in the two matches against Israel that resulted in two costly draws for Paulo Bento’s side.
Fortunately for Portugal and Ronaldo, Israel couldn’t muster any points off of Russia to make them truly sweat for second place in Group F. But their poor performance throughout the campaign, outside of their 1-0 victory at home to Russia way back in October 2012, have placed them in as rough of a tie as they could have imagined against Zlatan Ibrahimovoic and the solid Swedes.
One of these two colossal footballers will miss the World Cup Finals next summer, and that staggering fact was made even more telling when Ibrahimovic later in the day recorded his own half trick for PSG against Nice. It highlighted how titanic that clash will be of the gripping playoff stage of the World Cup, and how Ronaldo’s campaign for the Ballon D’Or could be all for naught if he can’t lead his side to Brazil 2014.
While other attacking options for Portugal have stepped up a bit lately, the fact of the matter remains that Portugal still are in what seems to be an endless eternal search for a main forward to help Ronaldo. Ever since the retirement of Pedro Pauleta, it’s been an almost 8 year search for Portugal to replace the former PSG star as a front man, a role Ronaldo has never wanted to play throughout his career and has never been comfortable playing.
Youngsters Nelson Olivera and Eder seem to be the better choices at the moment than retread veterans Hugo Almeida and Helder Postiga, who have been given ample opportunities throughout the years, only to prove constantly they aren’t the answer. Those young forwards may decide the fate of whether Ronaldo takes home to prize and stares at Blatter in January.
But if Portugal fail to qualify for the World Cup Finals, should that be held against Ronaldo taking home the Ballon D’or, especially when Ribery faces that very possibly himself with France being in their own playoff tie with Ukraine?
I fear that it will be held against him, especially if he fails to score in either of the legs. It would be a real shame if that was the final determination in giving it to Ribery over him, since Messi’s latest injury that ends his play in 2013 looks to rule him out while his main two competitors for his fifth Ballon D’Or continue to pile on their stats.
But his critics will find another reason to pour cold water on what has been another phenomenal period for a global superstar still holding personal vendetta tours to those who chose to belittle him. It will only serve to motivate his desire for ultimate greatness further.
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