Ron­aldo eyes first in last chance

Deccan Chronicle - - BUSINESS -

Sochi, June 14: Cris­tiano Ron­aldo will launch his lat­est and prob­a­bly last at­tempt to crown his ca­reer with a World Cup win­ners medal when Eu­ro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal face neighbours Spain in their open­ing World Cup game here on Friday.

The 33-year-old will lock horns with six of his Real Madrid team­mates as the Spa­niards at­tempt to shrug off the shock sack­ing of coach Julen Lopetegui fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment that he will take over at the Bern­abeu next month.

It is worth won­der­ing what Ron­aldo might have known of Lopetegui’s im­mi­nent ap­point­ment at Real, given the re­la­tion­ship both have with Por­tuguese su­per-agent Jorge Men­des, at a time when the for­ward’s own club fu­ture re­mains the source of spec­u­la­tion.

But now, amid all that, Ron­aldo’s fo­cus is on the World Cup, the one ma­jor hon­our still miss­ing from his CV.

It is a stretch to make Por­tu­gal one of the favourites to win the tro­phy, even with Ron­aldo, but they are nev­er­the­less in Rus­sia as the reign­ing Eu­ro­pean cham­pi­ons af­ter sur­pris­ing France on home soil two years ago.

Ron­aldo is 33 now, still in fan­tas­tic phys­i­cal con­di­tion and the reign­ing Bal­lon d’Or win­ner. He can prob­a­bly play on for as long as he wants, but it is hard to imag­ine him re­turn­ing for a fifth World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

If he is to cap his ca­reer with a World Cup win­ner’s medal, then now is his time, and what bet­ter way to start than by in­spir­ing Por­tu­gal to vic­tory over their neighbours and put them­selves in pole po­si­tion in Group B.

“Of course Cris­tiano Ron­aldo is the best player in the world at the mo­ment and he will be the top player at this World Cup. There are no words to de­scribe him,” said ad­mir­ing team­mate Joao Mario at Por­tu­gal’s base near Moscow this week.

At the World Cup so far, Ron­aldo has man­aged just three goals in three tour­na­ments — a penalty against Iran in 2006; one against North Korea in 2010, and one against Ghana in 2014.

There will be an ob­vi­ous de­ter­mi­na­tion to im­prove that record in Rus­sia, with Por­tu­gal also fac­ing Morocco and Iran in their group. But he also needs to act as a fa­ther fig­ure to the ta­lented young mem­bers of Fernando San­tos’s squad.

— AFP

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