Euro 2016: Is Cristiano Ronaldo a pantomime villain?
Portugal vs Croatia was one of the select matches in the round-of-16 phase of Euro 2016, only next to a replay of the Euro 2012 finals, Spain vs Italy. It was a shocking snoozefest, except the frantic last few minutes. Croatia were the better side for most of the match and Ronaldo, one of the players to look out for was mostly quiet. Yet, cometh the hour cometh the man, Cristiano Ronaldo did have a telling contribution.
After nearly two hours of boring possession play with no shots on target, Nani found Ronaldo with a beautiful pass in the box and he became the first player to test the keeper. This led to the decisive goal which continues Portugal's topsy-turvy ride in the Euros. It wasn't Ronaldo's best game. Even among all of his recent debatable performances at the Euros. It was, in fact, one of the worst matches at this edition of the Euros.
Yet it was Ronaldo taking home a lot of credit. Not very different from the last group stage game in which Ronaldo dragged Portugal into the knockout rounds.
Probably, this is where Ronaldo proves his point. That is, even if Portugal are knocked out by a less fancy team, say Poland whom they meet in the quarter-finals. No one can take away the title of being one of the world's greatest players from him. His antics are questionable. His onfield and off-field tantrums are vexing. Yet how much ever he is portrayed as a pantomime villain, his performances will always win people over.
He can throw as many mikes into lakes, talk of other teams having small mentalities and yet score a hattrick in the next game and so the world will go on. Point being we have to see him as much as a normal human being as we adulate him and criticise him openly as a superstar. Yes, a normal human being who is among the world's best!
Ronaldo finally steps up in Euro 2016
Portugal vs Hungary was a showing of classic Ronaldo. No look back heel goal check. Powerful header check. With two goals and an assist he shut up all his critics as well as the media. The match and the Euros were literally begging Ronaldo for this kind of a performance.
Obviously, everyone has seen the video of him visibly angry yet subtle as he throws away the reporter's mike into the lake. Haters will loathe him and say that it's his annoying attitude.
Yet, the best of us will do the same when disturbed and wanting to prove a point. The world against us mentality is what often comes in handy to prove everyone wrong. What everyone thinks of as ego, why can't it be seen as a defense mechanism for Ronaldo? Why does the media always judge?
At the final whistle of the Portugal vs Iceland match Ronaldo left the pitch without shaking the hands of any of his opponents and delivered a very bitter, petulant post-match interview which received widespread criticism.
If anything he should’ve given credit to Iceland where it’s due and not such harsh criticism! All in the name of sportsmanship. After all, they are the smallest nation by population at Euro 2016 and this was their first appearance in a major competition.
A few days later, in what was labelled a qualification make or break match vs Austria. All Ronaldo had to do was score. Somehow he managed to miss plentiful chances and it ended 0-0. The highlight of the game being his missed penalty.
Did Ronaldo's missed penalty indicate a small mentality? Wasn't he letting the occasion get to him and succumbing to pressure? The fact that he never "shares” free kick duties with his teammates and continues to ram them into the wall one after the other surely makes a case. Moreover, it doesn't help that he continues to have the air of arrogance around him. He doesn't shy away from aggressively pointing out his teammate's mistakes, does he ?
The big question being, as one of the biggest stars of the beautiful game and a face that people around the globe recognize and relate to football, was it really a good example to set?
A terrific footballer
Nobody in their right mind can deny that he is a terrific football player and is one of the greatest of all time. One can only admire the hard work and dedication he has put in to be the best at whatever he does in a long and fitting career which have taken him from the streets of Madeira to lifting the Champions League trophy with the kings of Europe, Real Madrid.
As a player who shoulders the hopes of an entire nation. One who has had to face the constant pressure of proving himself at the international stage with his national team. A return of 60 goals from 130 appearances is nothing short of phenomenal and is what is expected from him. In fact, with the match against Austria, Ronaldo became the most capped player for the Portuguese national team surpassing Luis Figo.
He is just short of matching Michel Platini’s mark of 9 goals at the Euro finals and is close to the record number of caps gained during the Championship. And already is the highest scorer with Qualification included. Ronaldo is also the first player to score in seven consecutive national tournament finals. Is it because of such superhuman feats of his that we always look at him through these shades of super all the time?