Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are currently the faces in the world of soccer, specially in Spain. Their tremendous success in their club teams (Barcelona and Real Madrid) and their national teams (Argentina and Portugal) have made them the best in the world. One championship can finally put the debate to rest, but the dream was crushed.
Messi and co were drawn into the easiest group (H) in this World Cup. Surprisingly, they underestimated their competition. The debuting Iceland forced a drawn. Next, Croatia wiped the floor with sky blue tears, with a 3-0 win. In their final match, Argentina took on Nigeria. The Nigerians held the 2014 runner-ups, but they conceded four minutes before stoppage time. Thus, Argentina tripped themselves over into the next round, in 2nd place.
Group B was slightly more difficult, with Spain being the toughest challenge for Ronaldo’s squad. The match went back-and-forth, so both teams accepted the 3-3 draw. Just like Argentina, Portugal barely made it through. By the end of the group stage, the Navigators got a 1-0 win over Morocco and a 1-1 draw against Iran.
The expectations are always set high for the Barcelona and Real Madrid superstars. Thus far, Ronaldo had pulled off amazing performances while Messi was just a spectator in his own games. In an epic foreshadowing, Argentina and Portugal placed 2nd their groups; being pit against France and Uruguay.
In reality, all four teams played excellent games. In the end, 19 year old Kylian Mbappe came out of nowhere to give France a 2-1 lead. Sergio Agüero retaliated with one of his own; in the 94th minute. It wasn’t enough, as South Americans packed their bags for the flight back home.
Just a few hours later, Portugal and Uruguay did battle. Edison Cavani drew first blood with a goal at the 7th minute. It took time, but Portugal got one in, ten minutes into the 2nd half. Cavani fired back with another at the 62nd minute mark.
All of Portugal’s best efforts proved to be futile, not even the great Ronaldo was able to break through the Uruguayan defense. The balance between offense and defense was sufficient, as Uruguay held on to the lead with dear life. That was enough to send Uruguay into the next round and book Ronaldo on his flight back home.
Essentially, neither Messi or Ronaldo lived up to the hype in comparison to when they’re in Spain. The magic they produce with their clubs is not easy to replicate with teammates that they don’t see consistently.