How Important is Cristiano Ronaldo to Portugal’s World Cup Hopes?

Portugal lost against Switzerland in Basel in the opening game of UEFA World Cup Qualification Group B. After this loss, they won all the games that followed. This made them top their group and they qualified automatically for Russia. After the initial setback that Ronaldo missed through injury, Portugal scored a total of 32 goals and only conceded two in the nine games that followed. Andre Silva and Ronaldo made a great partnership where they scored 24 goals.

Santos has done a great job in making the team have the iron will to win, as well as, a huge unity of purpose since he took over in September 2014. The team has won 20 and lost only one of their 24 competitive matches under the coach. Selecao made deep runs into major tournaments in the recent history. Five of these were semi-finals in nine tournaments this century. Things have changed as they are not seen as mentally brittle at time crunch as they used to be.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal, World Cup Russia 2018

Players from the Portugal team have made it their mantra to be hard to beat and this was strengthened by their Euro 2016 win. Their competition for places among the talented generation has made their togetherness stronger. Without a doubt, Ronaldo is seen as one of the pillars of the team. You might see this as arrogance or self-publicity but you will be forgiven for this. Ronaldo has really worked and sacrificed a lot to attain his status. He has been able to stay at peak fitness and he recently claimed that he has a body of a 23-year old.

This is clear indication that he will not be slowing down anytime soon. He has a new contract on the way with Real Madrid. When it comes to his home team, he is not only the captain but also the most capped player with 149 appearances. He is their top scorer having scored 81 goals. This sets a really high bar for his team. We cannot write off Ronaldo who has shown what he is capable of this season. People might be fast to judge him claiming that he is declining but from his Champions League display, he has done great.

Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal, World Cup Russia 2018

He will start the campaign upfront, as a crucial leader to the team. He will be the guide to Andre Silva who is a young striker in the team and might be the future star of the team. When you look at Ronaldo tactically, he will be the outlet of the team and not the heartbeat. You might rush to write him off but Portugal’s hope rests on Ronaldo’s presence. He might not be as good as Maradona who hauled his country. He has so far managed to win four European titles in twenty-four months.