The great debate about whether Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is the best footballer in world football will probably forever rage on. However, what is not in question is the Portuguese’s contribution to his national side.
On Friday night, the Real Madrid star was at it again, as the 33-year-old scored a hat-trick in Portugal’s thrilling 3-3 World Cup draw against neighbours Spain. It was the first World Cup hat-trick of his career. He has now scored 84 international goals for the Selecao.
The man for big moments
Ronaldo opened the scoring with a penalty kick. He then got lucky, as Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea made a major blunder to allow his low effort to squirm home.
He then produced a superb late free-kick to rescue a draw with just two minutes. The strike was Ronaldo’s first goal from a free-kick at major international tournaments in 45 attempts, an incredible statistic.
There are very few players in living memory that have come up with such big moments on such a consistent basis. Ironically, the aforementioned Messi is another such player.
Ronaldo may be a man that likes a bit of self-promotion, but he backs it up with sheer impact on the pitch for club and for country.
Ronaldo elevates Portugal
Many teams are defined by their star player. He is the player who is undoubtedly more talented than the rest of his teammates. Ronaldo is that player for Portugal.
The Iberian nation has some tidy players in their squad. However, without Ronaldo, they would no doubt just be an average team, without much of a spark. The Real Madrid forward elevates the Iberian nation simply by his talent, his personality and his work-rate.
Portugal may have won the Euro 2016 final without the forward for much of the game. However, Ronaldo was standing on the sidelines almost as a second coach urging his teammates on after sustaining a first-half injury. Despite not being on the pitch, he still proved to be a major influence on his national team once again.
Portugal confident of qualification
The situation in Group B has not changed, as Spain and Portugal will still be the favourites to qualify for the World Cup, despite the draw. Iran’s surprise 1-0 win over Morocco has put the Asian nation top of the group.
A draw in the toughest game of the group against their rivals is not a terrible result. Portugal still has to face Iran and Morocco, teams they will be favourites to win comfortably.
However, if Portugal are to make it out of the group and go deep into the competition, Cristiano Ronaldo will once again be a key figure for the Selecao.
No doubt the veteran forward will just keep adding his football legend at Russia 2018. He just keeps showing up on the big stage and he will continue to do. However, despite his talent and his influence on the team, it will be highly difficult for him to win the World Cup this summer. With, Ronaldo though, anything seems possible.
Can Cristiano Ronaldo cap his incredible career by lifting the World Cup in Russia?