Ronaldo has little impact on ‘enchanting’ World Cup

‘To say Portugal has physical problems is the same as saying Iraq has issues with security’

Cristiano Ronaldo: “We know it is mathematically doable, but the task is almost impossible.” Photograph: Andres Stapff/Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo: “We know it is mathematically doable, but the task is almost impossible.” Photograph: Andres Stapff/Reuters

 

The World Cup is getting ready to bid an early farewell to one of its biggest stars, if this morning’s headlines are to be believed.

Cristiano Coming Undone’ laments Argentina’s Olé after last night’s last gasp 2-2 draw against the USA left Portugal’s chances hanging by a thread. ‘Just About Done’ agrees its Brazilian peer Lance!

“Only a miracle can keep Portugal in the Cup,” lamented Portugal’s A Bola. “Varela’s goal in the 95th minute leaves a residue of hope. Now we need to hammer Ghana and hope for a hammering in the Germany-USA game to wipe out the enormous goal difference.”

Despite his own semi-divine powers on the field, a dejected Cristiano Ronaldo himself does not seem to believe in miracles. “We know it is mathematically doable, but the task is almost impossible,” he told his country’s reporters after the game before adding a perfunctory “but in football anything can happen”.

The Portuguese press have rounded on the poor physical condition in which the players arrived for the tournament. “They were good for the first five minutes. Then Portugal broke down physically,” wrote João Miguel Tavares in Publico. “To say Portugal has physical problems is the same as saying Iraq has issues with security. It is an enormous euphemism.”

The early departure of the Portuguese Ronaldo will be a loss for this tournament. He was cheered throughout last night by the crowd in Manaus, the locals ecstatic at having a genuine footballing superstar in what is one of the game’s remotest backwaters.

But it is unlikely to dim enthusiasm for what people on social media across Latin America are calling with some pride “the best World Cup in history”.

“The tournament has not even completed two weeks, but the avalanche of well-played games, gourmet goals and results changing during the 90 minutes has squashed any negative detail which you could point out. Fifa probably cannot believe it. It has enchanted everyone,” writes Marcelo Gantman in Argentina’s La Nacion.

The Brazilian press are revelling in the fact that despite all the chaos of the build-up their country is hosting the best World Cup in years. Now they just wish the national team would finally show up and join the party.

‘Party Under Pressure’ is this morning’s headline in Folha de S.Paulo under a photo of a rather anxious looking Felipão who in his last press conference called Louis van Gaal “either stupid or bad-intentioned” for suggesting Brazil’s Group A concludes after the Netherlands’ Group B in order to allow the hosts choose their second round rival.

But the local press are not so much worried about who their team plays next as that it start playing like Brazil. “The seleção has to impose, at least once in this Cup, the beguiling and efficient rhythm that worked out so well in the Confederations Cup, ” demands Antero Greco in Estado de S.Paulo. “Until now we have not seen the yellow blitz…”

Brazil’s game against Cameroon is its 100th in a World Cup and there is no better moment that in front of 70,000 fans in the nation’s capital to pay homage on the field to the richest footballing tradition of them all.

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