The debate about who’s better between Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo was supposed to be settled at this World Cup. Both players have five Ballon D’or each and are both captains of their respective teams. This was their final chance to put an end to the debate and lead their countries to the World Cup final. How ironic that they were eliminated on the same day. Cue the Twitter jokes.
What fans apparently did not put into consideration was the fact that those two players, their individual brilliance nonetheless, simply glossed over deep cracks in the wall. Argentina showed their vulnerability early in the competition- drawing Iceland in the first game and losing to Croatia in the second.
Only a fortunate turn of events allowed them to qualify in place of Nigeria. The 4-3 scoreline against France in Saturday’s round of 16 does not entirely tell the story of the match- it was almost a rout and again, it was the individual qualities of certain players that gave them three goals, not necessarily that they were that good. In the end, Lionel Messi exits the World Cup- perhaps for the last time in his career- with a single goal (one less than Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa).
But C. Ronaldo flattered to deceive: he bagged a hattrick in his first game and scored a fourth in the second.
Who knew that was where it would end? His performance against Uruguay in the second round was stifled and in the end, Portugal lost 2-1, his four goals in the competition notwithstanding.
This could be the last time Lionel Messi and C. Ronaldo are seen at the World Cup. They would be 35 and 37 years old when the next one comes around. Now it’s time to focus on the other players who have a realistic chance of winning the World Cup.
England has been daring to dream again of winning the trophy for the first time since 1966. Their captain Harry Kane has five goals already. France has a crop of players that is reminiscent of the 1998 giant killers. 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe has three goals after his blistering performance against Argentina.
Belgium’s so-called golden generation is coming of age- they’ve won all three of their matches so far and face Japan next. With four goals already, Romelu Lukaku will fancy his chances to add more to his tally.
Will this be the tournament where new legends are made? You bet!
France 4- Argentina 3
Uruguay 2- Portugal 1
Spain vs Russia
Croatia vs Denmark