The European Championships may provide Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to finally upstage Lionel Messi but only if Portugal go all the way and win the competition.
The Portuguese hit man is constantly compared to the serial World Player of the year. At times it seems that no matter what Ronaldo does, Messi pops up to outshine and out impress.
For many it is unfair to contrast and compare the two as both are excellent footballers with differing abilities and skillsets however as both play on opposing sides of the “El Classico” divide it is inevitable.
Since his transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid Ronaldo has scored more goals than appearances and regularly broken all sorts of goal scoring records. The problem is the little Argentinian then goes on to raise the bar even further.
In the 2012 season Ronaldo finished with 60 goals in all competitions outstripping his previous seasons tally to become Real Madrid’s all time record goal scorer in one season. However, in this time Messi scored 73 goals in all competitions, (including 50 in to become Pichichi) entering the record books as the all-time European goal scorer.
Many may claim that goal scoring records prove nothing and are merely a reflection of a player’s selfish attitude and poaching ability but for anyone who has watched at least one of Ronaldo’s or Messi’s displays they will know there is much more to there games.
Ronaldo will have to exist in the shadow a greater force for just now. The same unfortunate circumstance is currently befalling the likes of Andy Murray in tennis and the many opponents of Floyd Mayweather in boxing. The only difference is while the other sporting stars accept their place it clearly rankles and frustrates the Portuguese captain.
Like many modern footballers Ronaldo has an ego as big as the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and is not shy in self-promotion and swollen headed boasting. He regularly likes to remind all and sundry of his merits and obvious capabilities and it is no surprise to learn that he thinks he is the best player in the world.
Some may argue that this type of confidence and vainglorious, cocksureness is a necessary aspect of the sporting elite but when he attacks Messi it smacks of arrogance and insolence, especially when the Argentine is usually so modest and composed in response.
Only last week in the aftermath of an underwhelming display against Denmark and taunts from Danish supporters of “Messi, Messi,Messi” he responded ;
“You know where he was at this time last year? Do you know? He was being eliminated in the Copa America, in his own country. I think that’s worse, no?”
A strange comparison, which although true was a nice way a deflecting his own performance and was even more stupid considering Messi had just ran the show in games against Ecuador and Brazil (I wonder if Cristiano was aware of this?)
Yesterday, Portugal managed to overcome a stubborn but limited Czech Republic courtesy of a late Ronaldo header. The Portuguese captain was again at his imperious best replicating his performance against the Dutch only being denied a hat-trick by the Czech woodwork.
If Portugal are to win the championship the rest of their players must try to match their skipper as better teams than the Czech Republic will ask more questions of a limited defence and midfield. EPL stars such as Meireles and Nani in attack combined with a defence including Alves, Coentrao and the mercurial Pepe must raise their game to defeat the likes of Germany, Italy or Spain.
More importantly for Ronaldo his countries success will reward him with the opportunity to lord over Messi who has previously failed to win an international tournament (unless you count the Olympics? Me neither).
In typical fashion Messi would only go on to lead Argentina to World Cup success in 2014 sending Ronaldo into a spell of self-pity, sorrow and self-indulgence.