The impossible question – VG

WHO IS THE BEST?: Lionel Messi started the World Cup with a letdown against Saudi Arabia. Cristiano Ronaldo could be grinning after making history against Ghana. Photo: AP/REUTERS

DOHA (VG) (Portugal-Ghana 3–2) Cristiano Ronaldo is not making it easy to settle for the fact that Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer of all time.


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Some moments will stay in your memory forever. Such an event occurred after an hour here at “Stadion 974” in Doha. At a facility built from shipping containers, Cristiano Ronaldo was just as sly as he is known for.

The penalty kick was not the clearest and the goalkeeper guessed correctly, but “CR7” knows exactly what to do when it is required of him.

The quick kick on the ball didn’t just send Portugal into the lead against Ghana. It also gave Ronaldo fans a striking argument in the debate about who is the “goat” in international football (GOAT, “Greatest Of All Time”), a duel the Portuguese and his Argentinian nemesis have had going on for ages.

Now Ronaldo has made sure that he sits alone on a rather special statistic, scoring in the most World Cup play-offs.

It is a bit unreal that we have to go back to 2006, and a match against Iran, to find the Portuguese’s very first World Cup goal. He then scored in 2010, 2014 and 2018, before he now made sure that the number is five.

Lionel Messi’s goal against Saudi Arabia, however little it helped, was the fourth World Cup he has scored in. He joins Miroslav Klose, Uwe Seeler and Pelé. But since this is the last World Cup of his career, Messi will never catch up with Ronaldo in that statistic.

Comparing these players becomes a number exercise for which there is no conclusion, because it depends so much on what the weights are. But since both Ronaldo and Messi are missing the World Cup gold, it will probably be a big deal for many if one of them were to make it in the last attempt here in Qatar.

After one uncontested match each, there is no doubt who is the best going forward, but even Portugal has not appeared among the sharpest countries so far. Until there were too large parts of the match against Ghana slack, compared to what France and Spain have given us in the last few days.

But when it first caught fire, a showdown really got going and Portugal eventually won 3–2. In fact, Ghana could have equalized right away, but it was cleared away.

If one forgets the record stasis for a moment and tries to look objectively at Ronaldo’s first appearance here in Qatar, it was acceptable without being dazzling.

There is no doubt that the radius of action is not what it was, although most youngsters will still envy his resilience. A bad touch and a header that slipped off the skull meant that two good opportunities were wasted before the quarter had been played. A disallowed goal and an abused opportunity that was offside anyway were also on the menu before he left after 88 minutes.

In any case, it must have been good to get such a start, after the exit from Manchester United stole the headlines in the middle of the final preparations.

The golden dream is still alive and well for the striker, who is also playing for his own club future. The speculation is on, with everything from the United States to Saudi Arabia among the possibilities being tossed around. However, the World Cup efforts will probably affect the options in the future.

So will the assessment of whether it is him or Messi who remains the greatest. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve changed my mind about that topic.

Right now, the question is completely impossible to answer.


Published: 24.11.22 at 22:51

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: impossible question

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