The football fans are fixated on who is the greatest of all time in the soccer arena with the duel between Cristiano Ronald and Lionel Messi entering its last global phase, perhaps.
Nonetheless, Ronaldo and Messi are the only two popular and talented players in our era who have never won the World Cup.
While it is true that Portugal is not a large team with many talented players that can easily claim the title of World Cup winner, the same cannot be said for Argentina, a country that has produced two World Cup victories so far.
Argentina has reached the World Cup final on four occasions. It was defeated by the Uruguay national team way back in 1930, which is the inaugural World Cup competition.
However, Argentina produced excellent football in the competition winning by big scores and establishing Guillermo Stábile, an Argentine professional football player and manager who played as a centre forward during his career, as the top scorer of the 1930 World Cup, scoring 8 goals including a hattrick.
Alas, it lost the final against the gritty Uruguayans with the match ending in a 4-2 win for Uruguay.
Argentina was also defeated in two other finals, in 1990 and 2014, against Germany and the latter went on to win those two finals by 1-0. In 1990, it was the last appearance for maestro Diego Maradona.
But Messi’s country produced two great final victories against the Netherlands in 1974, winning 3-1 in a display of magical soccer between the two opponents (Netherlands had the father of modern football Johan Cryuiff in its squad) and beating Germany in a thrilling 3-2 final giving Maradona his only World Cup final win.
While Messi lost in the first ever final in which he participated in 2014, Ronaldo’s Portugal never reached the final though the troubled Manchester United superstar has played in 4 World Cups since 2006.
Who Will Smile at the 2022 World Cup?
We wrote that Ronaldo is a player who sets precedence and sets the tone for styles and goal scoring prowesses. This is so true for the great player and he is also the first to win a ‘regional’ trophy with his country when Portugal won its first ever Euro Championship in 2016, beating France 1-0 in the final after extra time.
It was Ronaldo’s most important national trophy, leaving the World Cup as the only major international trophy he has yet to win.
The star is going through the most turbulent and disturbing period in his football career and his coach at Manchester United is not helping the player with his dictatorial style and his bullying of one of the greatest soccer stars of all time.
This is not going to help Ronaldo in Portugal’s search for a place in the final at Qatar though we know that the latter cna rise to the occasion if he can put all his woes behind him and focus on the football on the field.
A great performance by Ronald at the World Cup will make Eric Ten Hag look like a fool. But Ronaldo is going through pain and this may, unfortunately for his fans and for football, Ten Hag is contributing to a potentially bad World Cup for the latter.
Ten Hag has- sadly – never played in any World Cup and is already seen as a troubled coach at Man Utd. The 6-3 defeat against Manchester City and the 4-0 drubbing against Brentford are two big dark spots in his managerial career at Old Trafford. Another misstep with a drubbing by a small club or a big one for that matter may mean Ten Hag could see the gate wide open for him to be excluded from the club.
Why sadly? He does not know how precarious it is to be a player who is going to play in a World Cup. If he knew, he would have been more careful in his choices with Ronaldo.
Nevertheless, Lionel Messi is not facing such worries and the Argentinian ace is in the running as one of the top rated players who may perform well in Qatar.
Messi has announced that this may be his last call for Argentina in the World Cup and that he may retire as an international soccer player, meaning he might not play for his country again after Qatar 2022.
Ronaldo has responded to Messi’s plans for retirement from international football by saying he hopes Messi would reconsider and would continue to play as long as he can because he believes the latter is a great player with great capacities.
This is how Ronaldo is. He encourages his opponents to carry on and to perform in order to bring brightness to the most beautiful game on the planet. Unlike some people.
Messi’s World Cup?
Among all the stars in Qatar, Messi will undoubtedly be looked upon as one of the greatest and he will become the greatest versus Ronaldo if Argentina reaches the final and wins.
Messi too started his World Cup appearances in 2006. Unfortunately, like Ronaldo, he has been putting more emphasis on clus football – which brings them more cash – than national football.
Unlike people like Pele for example, who played for their country with the same grit and enthusiasm when they played for their clubs – Pele won many club titles and World Cup finals at the same time – it does not appear the same for the modern ‘Peles’.
However, Messi has a chance now and if he forgets club soccer for a while, perhaps he may spark a riot at the World Cup and bring the trophy home to Buenos Aires and consecrate himself as the GOAT of our generation.
Messi has scored six goals in 19 matches at the Fifa World Cup spanning four editions. Argentina is a bigger soccer country than Portugal, though Portugal has also produced aces like Ronaldo and the once thrilling Eusebio whose team beat Pele’s in the 1966 World Cup.
Ronaldo has scored seven goals in 17 matches at the FIFA World Cup, scoring in every edition he has played in – 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.
While Ronaldo has advised Messi to continue playing in the World Cup or at International level for a few more years, this year may be his last World Cup.
But depending on his spirit and where he is playing after he leaves Manchester United – unless Ten Hag is kicked out of Old Trafford earlier than January 2023 – Ronaldo may still attempt to give Portugal another shot at the World Cup in 2026! Imagine that.
Nevertheless, it is a pity that none of them have lifted the World Cup trophy, just like the legendary Cryuff who re-invented football with his total soccer styles, reached the final in 1974 and lost to Germany by 2-1.
Cryuff missed the World Cup in 1978 which saw the Netherlands reach the final only to be defeated by host Argentina by 3-1. He did not participate in the World Cup for obscure reasons but in 2008 he revealed why he did not play for the country in 1978.
He told the media that there was a kidnapping attempt on him and his family and that shocked him and while he escaped the attempt, it changed his perspective on life.
Hence, Messi is the best placed in the Qatar 2022 versus Ronaldo who is going through a difficult time, to go and win the cup for once!