Cristiano Ronaldo struck 51 goals in just 47 outings last season for eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid, boosting his club total to an impressive 252 in 246. The 29-year-old is also the current holder of the Ballon d’Or, so those affiliated with the Portugal national side will be expecting some big performances from him in this summer’s World Cup.
The tournament will kick off in Brazil in a matter of days and the excitement is slowly starting to crank up. Those lucky enough to have a golden ticket for the event have started filtering into the country, dreaming of those representing them on the field lifting the trophy.
Portugal came close to missing out on the World Cup altogether, of course, and were left to battle it out with Sweden in the play-offs back in November. Ronaldo was once again the saviour, though, striking once in the first leg and thrice in the second, sparking wild celebrations as the Portuguese qualified with a 4-2 aggregate score.
Paulo Bento’s side were placed in a group containing Germany, Ghana and USA – a group which will have Ronaldo rubbing his hands together.
Germany are naturally the biggest worry for A Seleccao, but their defence is a glaring weakness for them and Ronaldo may be able to exploit that. Jerome Boateng has never been comfortable with marking explosive players and Per Mertesacker is sluggish across the floor, so if Ronaldo runs at them with pace then they could be in trouble.
It makes the World Cup group G betting very interesting, as many expect Germany to top the group without a problem. Keeping that in mind, I think selecting Ronaldo as the tournament’s top scorer would be a wise bet and probably more realistic than Portugal topping their table.
Ghana are renowned for their power through the team and could prove to be a little bit of a problem to break down, but ultimately Ronaldo’s technical ability and knack of punishing teams when they switch off will surely see him penetrate the defence.
The former Manchester United winger will be confident of squeezing some change out of USA, and with Portugal likely to meet Russia in the next round, Ronaldo and his compatriots will be keeping their fingers crossed that he can steer clear of injuries.
For years there have been accusations of Ronaldo not performing well enough of the international stage but this summer gives him the platform to silence those that are doubting him, and I sincerely hope he takes it.