FIFA WC 2022: Can Ronaldo finds his goal scoring boots in Qatar?

Sports Desk


For Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, the beloved CR7, the return to familiar terrain in Manchester seemed to have failed to rekindle the magic it did a decade ago. With limited game time under his belt this season, the 37-year-old is not expected to arrive in Qatar to play his fifth world cup in the best physical condition of his career. This is a worrying aspect for coach Fernando Santos and millions of fans awaiting to see the CR7 magic, perhaps for the last time in his career in this event.

Will Portugal be able to make a meaningful contribution in Qatar is a perplexing question in the minds of the fans. However, Ronaldo recently stated that he would continue to represent his country beyond Qatar, a bold statement which is hard to ignore. However, things are not in favour of the former Real Madrid forward as of today.

Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after missing a scoring chance during the UEFA Nations League | AP

Make that one start in seven Premier League games for Ronaldo in Manchester United this season, and only one goal for club or country in all competitions, and that a penalty in a Europa League match against Moldovan team Sheriff Tiraspol.

Ronaldo, one of most prolific goal-scorers ever, with 117 international goals and the top scorer for his club last season, did not even make it off the substitutes’ bench in the 6-3 loss to Manchester City recently.

What kind of state is the 37-year-old Ronaldo set to be in when he links up with Portugal in mid-November ahead of the World Cup?

Fresher than many of his peers, especially those players in the thick of a packed European club schedule over the next six weeks? Almost certainly. Yet, from the limited game time Ronaldo has gotten so far this season, there’s a growing feeling he will not be in the sort of rhythm Portugal needs him to be for its matches against Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.

Even though they are clear favourites in the paper to progress from the group, the test put forward by South American giants Uruguay and the surprising package offered by South Korea will be quite a challenge for Ronaldo and co.

Ronaldo was rusty in front of goal for Portugal in its big Nations League matches, squandering three decent chances in a 1-0 loss against Spain and not displaying the kind of clinical finishing expected of such an expert in front of goal. Even the media outlets in Portugal had taken a jibe at the five-time Ballon d'Or winner and called for him to be replaced with stars like Diogo Jota, Rafael Leao, or Joao Felix.

The question will be raised regarding the fitness of the star athlete and how he will cope with the high humidity weather in Qatar. Meantime, it is almost impossible to imagine Ronaldo getting dropped by Portugal in the World Cup. His experience, ability to dictate the pace, change the output of the game in the dying minutes, step up in crucial moments, and win over his peers with his influence will play a key factor for Fernando Santos and his fellow coaching staff leading into the world cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo during their 2006 World Cup | AP File

Elsewhere, Portugal does have an advantage on the international stage, often showing glimpses of success and pedigree as a footballing nation. During World Cup 2006, they defeated the start-studded England team to progress to the semis after Ronaldo scored the winning penalty seconds after goalkeeper Ricardo saved penalties from midfielders Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. For Portugal, this is the moment, and if Ronaldo finds his scoring boots in the dunes of Qatar, history can repeat, maybe even better.

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