Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or this year after four years of dominance for Lionel Messi. The prize is awarded to the player considered to be the best in the world but Ronaldo has to prove himself on the greatest stage to be viewed as one of the greats. The World Cup is the ultimate tournament for a footballer as it brings together the best teams just once every four years.
Pele scored more than 1000 goals but will be most remembered for being part of three Brazil World Cup winning teams. Maradona won the title in Italy with Napoli but his greatest legacy is inspiring Argentina to win the World Cup in 1986. Johan Cruyff had an outstanding career with Ajax and Barcelona but it is as part of the Total Football project that helped Holland reach two World Cup finals in the 1970’s that he is most remembered.
George Best had an appropriate surname in the context of his ability but never played in the World Cup finals for Northern Ireland. Ryan Giggs played 963 games for Manchester United but in representing Wales never got the chance to display his skills on the greatest stage. Ronaldo must deliver this summer if he can be seen as part of the elite group. Many Asian sportsbooks including Pinnacle Sports offer odds on Neymar to be player of the tournament.
The same could be said of Lionel Messi. His scoring record for Barcelona is immense but he didn’t score for Argentina at the last World Cup. Every four years a player emerges as the outstanding talent of his generation but it is only the World Cup that provides the global exposure to reach such heights. Smart punters will be betting on the World Cup with sportsbooks like IBCBet and Sbobet.
Ronaldo has scored 374 goals in 568 appearances for his three clubs, Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid. His international return for Portugal is 49 goals in 110 matches but he has not won a major honour playing for his country. In the context of being leading scorer in Brazil this summer he may only play five matches as Portugal have a tough schedule of matches if they progress from their group.
Portugal beat Sweden in the World Cup play-off tie and the key to their qualification was the performance of Ronaldo. He scored a stunning hat-trick in the second leg which helped his country to progress. Ronaldo could win the Golden Boot for top scorer in the World Cup without Portugal playing the maximum of seven matches. Only five goals were needed to win the prize in South Africa four years ago so one goal per game could be enough for Ronaldo to win the honour.
The months of May and June 2014 could define Ronaldo’s career. He featured in the Champions League final for Real Madrid against their city rivals Atletico. Given some form and goals in this game he can head into the World Cup full of confidence and ready to confirm himself as the best player in the world.