Cristiano Ronaldo will undoubtedly go down in history as one of professional football’s GOATs, but in all likelihood, if there’s one illustrious achievement he won’t achieve in his glittering career, it’s becoming a World Cup winner. The 2022 FIFA World Cup may have been Ronaldo’s last chance at World Cup glory, but the 37-year-old will have to return empty-handed following Portugal’s exit from the tournament.
Ronaldo and Portugal suffered heartbreak in the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup as the side lost 0-1 to Morocco on Saturday. Youssef En-Nesyri’s towering header in the 42nd minute remained the only difference between the two sides as Ronaldo, who again started from the bench, failed to score a goal after being introduced to the game in the second half . The disappointment of missing out on a World Cup became apparent when a shattered Ronaldo was seen in tears, first after the final whistle blew and then as he walked back to the dressing room. Yesterday it was Neymar and today Ronaldo. Two big heartbreaks for two of the greatest footballers of the current generation.
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Ronaldo, who holds the record for the most goals, hitting the back of the net 118 times in international men’s football, was only able to do so once this World Cup when he scored against Ghana. For Portugal, however, this tournament will be remembered more for the controversies surrounding Ronaldo off and on the pitch. Firstly, if his decision to leave Manchester United in the middle of a World Cup wasn’t infamous enough, the feud between him and Portugal has shattered the team’s atmosphere.
While most teams focus on winning the World Cup, for the Portuguese fans it was all about whether everything goes well between Ronaldo and the team. At first there were reports that Ronaldo had threatened to leave Portugal, which was later refuted by the Portuguese Football Federation. Then another report emerged claiming that Ronaldo skipped training with substitutes and opted instead for a gym session with the starters. One official statement after another, Ronaldo and Portugal were plagued by whatever was brewing between them.
Shockingly, Ronaldo sat on the bench during Portugal’s Round of 16 against Switzerland, but they did not regret the decision after a convincing 6-1 win. It was clear that his days as an international footballer were coming to an end. Here too he was on the bench from the starting eleven and although he only returned six minutes into the second half, he hardly influenced the game. Although he came on in the 51st minute for his 196th Portuguese cap, he failed to bring his team back level with the Moroccan defense who choked him and his teammates. In fact, Morocco’s dominance was so great that it allowed Portugal just three shots on target.