Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the last chance of two legends

Can we claim the title of the best player in history without a World Cup victory to his name? For fifteen years, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have built their rivalry on a “Stones or Beatles? “soccer. They absorb attention, honor and Ballons d’Or. But only one title is missing and everything is not reduced, but rather incomplete, and allows a “yes, but”. “Yes “, the Portuguese and the Argentinian are legends of their sport, “but” this world title is still not on their list. Qatar is undoubtedly the place of their last chance at, respectively, 37 and 35 years old.

It’s the fifth. Against Saudi Arabia, Lionel Messi did not expect defeat for his Albiceleste (1-2), Tuesday, November 22, to join the Mexicans Antonio Carbajal, Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Guillermo Ochoa, the Italian Gianluigi Buffon and the German Lothar Matthäus in the closed club of players in the last five stages of a World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo should also include it on Wednesday in Portugal’s tournament debut against Ghana, at the 974 stadium in Doha..

“Their longevity is extraordinary. Other great players have had two or three chances to win the World Cup. A legend like Alfredo Di Stefano is not even in dispute”observed historian Paul Dietschy, who coordinated the review football(s). on the history of the World Cup at the University Press of Franche-Comté.

Also read: Qatar 2022: the “unofficial” profile of the Portugal team

Monster of pride, “CR7” admitted in his shock interview with journalist Piers Morgan that he was arguing “probably” his last World Cup, but added a condition to prove “100%” an international retirement: won the tournament with Portugal. Messi is more direct. “This is my last chance to achieve the dream we all have: to win the World Cup, he announced on Monday. This is my last one. » But in the end the good? For him, the lights seemed greener than his rival before this failed entry despite his penalty goal. The substitute brought down to Manchester United, Ronaldo appears to him as a symbol of a paper tiger Portugal with big names but under a disappointing game.

Mute both from the round of 16

After a year of adaptation and spleen, Paris Saint-Germain’s Messi has regained some of the magic he displayed during his long years at Barcelona. Despite his inaugural defeat, Argentina dreamed of seeing him win a third world star (after 1978 and 1986) with an Albiceleste buoyed by his victory in the last Copa America. On July 10, 2021, Messi won a title against Brazil, but also had heart in his speech before the final. The man of a few words they finally found to touch his teammates.

‘Leo’ will never be ‘Diego’, but Messi can be closer to Maradona, in his own way. When he was his coach at the World Cup in 2010, Diego Maradona thought he was leading his team like he did in 1986. “Lionel is the best player in the world, he should take things into his own hands”, he said before the competition. Missed. Germany beat Argentina (4-0) in the quarter-finals.

Also read: Qatar 2022: the “unofficial” profile of the Argentinian team

Four years later, Messi stared into space when collecting his trophy for the best player of the tournament, a rattle for a restless finalist, beaten by these inevitable Germans at the Maracana (1-0). On the night in Rio, Messi broods, talking about his international retirement, but quickly reconsidered his choice and let eternal regret overcome Gonzalo Higuain for his missed chance at the start of the match.

For Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s a different story. Portugal has never reigned on the roof of the world, and only pushed the adventure to the semi-finals in 1966 and 2006. For this second attempt, France eliminated Seleçao (1-0) and Ronaldo wiped his tears in his “17” jersey , but his acquisition is imminent. With the departure of Luis Figo, the Madeira native finally inherits the number 7, the captain’s role and takes all the limelight.

“Ronaldo’s Portugal” has become a shortcut, an ease of language on good days and bad. The World Cup should be placed in the second category and is a metaphor passed down to posterity. “Goals are like ketchup: when they come, they all come at the same time”CR7 was announced before the 2010 World Cup.

A failed relationship with the World Cup

In South Africa, nothing will come, except for the anecdotal goal against North Korea, an elimination against Spain in the round of 16 and an open war with their coach Carlos Queiroz. The latter settles his accounts with him before the 2014 edition: “We have a national team called Cristiano Ronaldo. » Let’s go back here. The team in question left Brazil in the first round with Ronaldo still transparent (one goal).

In 2018, ketchup finally splashed out with four victories in the group stage (including a hat-trick against Spain), but the scoring machine was jammed in the defeat against Uruguay in the eighth (2-1) . If his rivalry with Messi is as much about statistics as taste, one number points to both men in their strained World Cup relationship: neither has scored in a knockout tie direct.

In a World Cup guestbook, the Portuguese and the Argentine are recurring but secondary characters. Their great work in their country is to be sought elsewhere; this Copa America win after so many failures for Messi and Euro 2016 success for Ronaldo. With his left knee bandaged, the injured captain shouted, gesticulated and informed Eder of his role as a national hero in the last minutes of the final against the Blues (1-0). “My face is shiny? That’s normal, I’m crying now”he was relieved to receive Portugal’s first international title.

Pele forever the greatest?

In its rhythm and its four-year beauty, the World Cup creates frustrated, disappointed but also cursed heroes. Michel Platini has confessed that he cried as a child after losing to Dutch idol Johan Cruyff in the final in 1974. He himself would become an uncrowned king of the world, endlessly frustrated by his two lost semi- finals with the Blues in 1982 and 1986.

“The World Cup deals all the cards again. Some became legends of the tournament like Italy’s Paolo Rossi in 1982, but he was not an ‘everyday’ football star like Platini and, nowadays, Messi or Ronaldoobserved Paul Dietschy. now, Ithe Champions League has become important in the footprint a player leaves behind. »

Also read Johan Cruyff, the total footballer

At this level, the two have admired the retina since the mid-2000s. But in the race for the next generations, they will leave temporarily with a handicap in front of Pelé who does not miss the opportunity to remind us that he is the only perched on its pedestal with three titles (1958, 1962 and 1970). The Brazilian often passed too quickly in the 1962 edition where, injured from the first match, he let Garrincha take the Seleçao to victory.

“Pelé became King Pelé with the title in 1970. For the first time, TV broadcasts the entire competition live and in color. All his goals and even the ones he almost scored, are remembered, continued Paul Dietschy. Messi and Ronaldo are less linked in the World Cup. But above all the money earned, there is a desire to honor their country, to fulfill a childhood dream. “But to also register the best line in his list of prizes, the one that risks always being missed by one.

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