Football

Messi’s poor Argentina form and Ronaldo’s Portugal’s underachievement continue

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the most breath-taking players to grace the modern game, have been dumped out of the World Cup on the same day.
Ronaldo and Portugal were outfoxed by a diligent Uruguay, and Lionel Messi was usurped of superstar status for one night. The electric Kylian Mbappe replaced him, as La Albiceleste succumbed to France in a pulsating clash.
It brings the burning dream to an end for the two world-beaters. Neither have a World Cup to their name. And heading into the tournament, many believed this was their last opportunity to reach the zenith of international football.
Ronaldo, just two years ago, played a managerial-style role and hauled his Portugal side over the line to lift the European Championship crown.
Messi has never tasted international glory with an Argentina side that came under immense scrutiny before and during this World Cup.
The record still stands, and his dejected figure at full-time in Kazan told the story of a man whose World Cup frustration far from reflects his illustrious career.
Who knows whether there is more to come from these temporarily fallen heroes…
The early stages of the competition suggested Cristiano Ronaldo would make this World Cup his own.
At 33 years old, Ronaldo might have envisaged this as a deserved send-off and a farewell to a truly spectacular career with Portugal.
The defeat to Uruguay, though, will surely increase his motivation and the notion of a 37-year-old Ronaldo gracing the world stage once more doesn’t seem an unfathomable one.
It is a bitter way to end his World Cup, as Ronaldo seemed to just be getting into his stride.
Ronaldo quickly emerged as the anticipated leader. His hat-trick against Spain left the planet open-mouthed and craving more from the European Championship winner.
He thumped home a header against Morocco to further underline his impact in the competition, and was a key part in getting the Selecao into the round of 16.
A distinct impetus was matched with Messi failing to produce with Argentina. However on a definitive Saturday night they both suffered the same fate.
His early tournament dominance was ultimately deceiving.
Unlike Ronaldo, Messi never forged a mesmerising moment to remember his World Cup by.
A goal against Nigeria was as good as it got for the Argentine, whose poor performances have been mostly blamed on the lack of quality around him.
He swiftly cut the frustrated figure so common at major tournaments. And rather than becoming a leader he simply fell to the wayside with the remainder of his team.
Argentina managed to splutter through the qualifying phase – thanks to Messi – and just about ploughed through the group.
In the knockouts they met quality opposition in France, however, and the concerning discovery of their ineptitude was made.
Messi aside, the South Americans offered little and even looked unconvincing when they led France.
The little magician looks set to retire after suffering heartbreak in 2014 too.
It is an unlikelihood we will see him at another World Cup.

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