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FIFA World Cup 2018: 5 reasons why Cristiano Ronaldo can lead Portugal to the World Cup

The 2018 World Cup is upon us and all the best players are all competing in Russia as we speak. One of those, if not the best, Cristiano Ronaldo is there with Portugal and has his eyes firmly set on lifting the trophy.

Before last week, nobody viewed the European Champions as potential contenders to the throne, four goals from Cristiano Ronaldo later and people are re-considering their picks.

As of now, the 33-year-old has scored every one of Portugal’s goals at the tournament. You’d be a brave man to bet against the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner because he’s going to lead his nation the summit of world football.

Whilst the game against Iran, seemed to be a step back, they have proved a couple of years back that this team is more than just talent. They have what it takes to scrape and fight for their lives – as they showed in the Euros. And it would certainly be foolish to consider it beyond them to repeat the same.

Here are 5 reasons why Cristiano Ronaldo can lead Portugal to the World Cup.

#5 Other teams aren’t firing

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Coming into the tournament, Germany, Brazil and Spain were all billed as the favourites, not Portugal. After the first couple of group games, none of those three teams impressed while Portugal did.

Germany lost in a shocker to minnows Mexico only to follow up with a last-minute winner against Sweden. Brazil, on the other hand looked uninspiring and couldn’t see off an average Switzerland side.

And as for Spain, they were powerless to stop Cristiano Ronaldo and only just scraped past Iran. The tournament’s favourites haven’t started well, and this will leave Portugal the perfect opportunity to capitalise as the outsiders to the throne, just like they did in France.

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#4 A better squad

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I’m going to go on record and say that this is the most complete set of Portuguese players since the Euro 2004 squad. Fernando Santos has, however, 23 men that lends balance with enough tools to go all the way.

While Cristiano Ronaldo is clearly the talisman and the one everyone looks toward, Portugal don’t seem to be solely reliant on the world’s best player.

This time, Ronaldo will be surrounded by top quality players like Bernardo Silva, Andre Silva, Raphael Guerreiro, William Carvalho and Goncalo Guedes. That means if on the odd day the 33-year-old has an off day, there are others around him to supplement and carry the team through.

Portugal has strength in depth in every department of the pitch, establishing them as a well-balanced team.  

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#3 It’s his last World Cup

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It’s sad to think that this may be the last time we ever see Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at the same World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo is now 33 years of age and in 2022 he’ll be 37.

Of course, the forward himself said that he feels he could play at the top level until the age of 40, but that would be unheard of in the modern day.

The dawning reality that this may be Ronaldo’s last World Cup will only fuel the fire inside of the 33-year-old. And when Cristiano Ronaldo is determined, no one can stop him.

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#2 He did it at the Euros

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Euro 2016 was the tournament that Cristiano Ronaldo finally fulfilled his destiny on the international stage. He led his nation to silverware; a feat Lionel Messi cannot say he’s achieved. Many say that Ronaldo didn’t perform at his best in France, but if you look at the statistics, he literally dragged his team to the summit of European football.

During the qualifying stages, Ronaldo scored five goals in 540 minutes of football, equating to a goal every 108 minutes. In the tournament itself, the 33-year-old scored three goals and provided two assists, that was five out of the total nine goals Portugal scored in the tournament. And nobody can say the Portuguese didn’t play the best teams on their route to the final, because they faced; Iceland, Croatia, Wales and the hosts themselves, France in the final.  

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#1 He’s best the player on the planet

It’s not a debate, it’s fact: Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world today, maybe even ever. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has done it all over the past few years, gazumping the accomplishments of Lionel Messi in every way.

The Portuguese superstar has astonishingly led Real Madrid to the UEFA Champions League four times in the past five years.

Nobody can say he wasn’t influential in those campaigns, as he’s finished top scorer in nearly every UCL season he’s been involved in. Now, the 33-year-old is the competition’s all-time top scorer having 116 goals, 18 more than Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo will confirm his place as the best ever with a World Cup win this summer on the road to his sixth Ballon d’Or.  

 

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