While the heat builds up towards FIFA 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have the hopes of millions of fans riding on their shoulders. The part of the reason is that by the next world cup which will be held in 2022, they might not represent their countries anymore, as they would be past their prime at ages 37 and 35 respectively. As this means that this is their last chance to win the most prestigious trophy that football has to offer, their respective teams are doing their best to support their stars and in helping them stay in utmost shape for what could be the most important tournament of their careers. They both have been called the best players in the world and their performances have proved this to be true time and again.
In fact, some critics have even gone to the extent of calling their teams sub-par without them. In such a scenario, it is definitely a lot of pressure for both the players to perform well, more so for themselves. If either Argentina or Portugal wins the cup this year, it would a fitting tribute to the end of an illustrious run for both the players.
Retired Argentine Footballer Juan Roman Riquelme, who is considered to have been one of the best footballers of his generation, especially known for his unique methods used in passing, has said that provided Messi is in top form during the world cup, the cup would surely go to Argentina this year.
Messi, who has been named “World Player of the Year” (renamed Ballon dÓr), 5 times, is the man behind Argentina’s Olympic gold in 2008 and that is just the tip of an iceberg. He has scored many of his country’s match-winning goals and has always been amongst the top players in the world, along with his rival Ronaldo. During the previous finals in 2014, Argentina lost out to Germany by 1 goal at the 113th minute of the match. However, since Argentina made it all the way to finals in 2014, there is a higher probability that they make it to the finals this year as well and Messi leads them to victory. On the other hand, during the same tournament, though Portugal lost out to USA because of goal differentials, Ronaldo was amongst the top goal scorers.
In the context of the upcoming world cup, both players are incredibly talented and equally deserving of the trophy and irrespective of which team wins this year, this world cup will go down in history as possibly the last world cup of two of the greatest stars that the game has ever seen. And who is to say, this could also be the last best chance for both the countries to win the trophy.