Image: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/GettyImages.
Having spent most of the season bristling at comparisons of his on-pitch prowess with that of Lionel Messi, Euro 2012 was Cristiano Ronaldo’s time to shine. It says something about the player that in a season where his 46 goals propelled Real Madrid to the La Liga title and he became the first player in the club’s history to score 40+ goals in two consecutive seasons that that he cares about such meaningless details, but still.
He does, and therefore, so do we.
Unfortunately, Ronaldo seems to have got a little carried away with the drama of his own existence. While Lionel Messi prefers to ignore the hyperbole surrounding his ludicrous strike rate, Ronaldo revels in it. He restyles his hair during half time. He watches himself on the stadium screens. His free kick routine is so contrived, it’s usually more entertaining than the strikes themselves. Right now, the only thing missing is the cape and mask being whipped out of the sock and popped on before the kick is taken, and surely that’s just a Nike product development meeting away.
That’s not to say he isn’t a magnificent player. His two goals in Portugal’s group game vs. Netherlands plus the match winner vs. Czech Republic in the quarter final had the pundits excitedly predicting the emergence of the international superstar to match the club player. It didn’t seem too outrageous to claim that he would finally put his indifferent form in major tournaments to bed, that his work load and strike rate could easily overwhelm an out-of-sorts Spanish NT and carry Portugal through to the final. And why the hell not? Chelsea won the Champions League, for crying out loud.
Whether, as Ronaldo claims, it was his manager’s decision to put him down for the fifth and potentially decisive penalty, and not the first, we’ll never know. But the gentle manipulation of situations to ensure maximum exposure has become something of a signature move for Cristiano, and this morning he can’t be surprised that many are claiming his fingerprints are all over this one.
As it turned out, Ronaldo’s moment of truth consisted of standing and watching, panties all up in a bunch, while first Joao Moutinho and then Bruno Alves missed, allowing Messi’s team mate Cesc Fabregas to score the winner and take the glory.
Hopefully, Cristiano was wearing sunscreen. Because that’s gonna burn for a long, long time.