Soccer / sampaoli

Ronaldo and Messi – Two Kings and No Crown
Cristiano Ronaldo (33 y. o.) and Lionel Messi (31 y. o.) also leave this World Cup with nothing. They are threatened to remain uncrowned forever. In the case of Argentine, an exit could save the whole country. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were 2085 km away from each other on their last evening during the Football World Cup. But in the end, as they crept the last meters across the lawn into the catacombs, the two best football players on the planet shared a common destiny: they had just given away the last chance to their country to win a world title. At least having pushed themselves to the utmost. Sochi, 22:58. After the 1:2 loss against Uruguay in the last sixteen, Cristiano Ronaldo trudges to the mixed zone of the arena where a bunch of journalists is calling for him. A dozen cameras are focused on the Portuguese. The 33-year-old runs a hand through his hair; diamonds adorn his ears. He smiles. But it is one of those Cristiano Ronaldo smiles judging by which hardly anyone knows who determines the features here: "CR7," the personal brand, or Cristiano Ronaldo, the sportsman. Neither the personal brand nor the sportsman feels like saying anything. In silence, he gets on the team bus. Kazan, 18:52. Lionel Messi stands motionless on the lawn after the 3:4 loss against France. Behind the world star, 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé has just been hugged by his French teammates, but the Argentinean captain does not even get that. Beads of sweat are running down Messi's face while he is glancing away into the vastness of the evening sky. In these seconds, the 31-year-old seems to realize that it happened. The decision. The end. He says goodbye to the big world cup stage. Two teams full of contrasts The match against France was possibly Messi's last one at a World Cup. And it cannot be hidden that it was even his last official match for the "Albiceleste". After this World Cup and the bizarre fuss in the Argentinian team, several national players will retire. Javier Mascherano (34) announced his leave on Saturday evening, Lucas Biglia (32) followed him. But there is a question which obscures everything: what will happen to Messi? Argentina's national hero, the team leader and its most skillful player, once again failed to prove that he is able to help his country win the title at this tournament. Moreover, the burden of expectations seemed really to overwhelm Messi. Eventually, he himself became the heaviest burden for his team. What happened in front of the 42,800 spectators in Kazan was the collision of two contrasting teams. France against Argentina, the future against the past, power against sluggishness, courage against fear. Argentina's national team whose playing, despite the elimination, was worthy of respect in Russia, needs a radical change. We observe a turning point which will hardly be possible with Messi. Because this World Cup finally revealed that the "Albiceleste" depends on Messi, which can be described as madness without exaggeration. Messi is an old, tired emperor There was a puppet show last week in which the main hero embodied good. Lionel Messi plays the leading part. The captain is supposed to have disempowered national coach Jorge Sampaoli and begun to run tactics and lineup. Sampaoli could only feel sorry for those days. When the 58-year-old had been attending the press conference at the Kazan Arena on Friday evening, 24 hours before the match vs France, there had been only one topic for discussion: Messi. During the 20-minute question-and-answer session, Sampaoli had to answer eight questions about his superstar, and the 1.67-meter coach did that with exceptional connivance and submission. "Leo is a genius," Sampaoli raved about the person who had deprived him of power a few days before. Messi’s brilliance would not have come out at the World Cup just because his teammates had not worked well enough. Sampaoli took openly against the whole team to pay homage to its captain. After the show, on Saturday evening, all eyes were focused on Argentina's number ten of course. Messi had to make a pass, now or never. But he did not make it. While the 19-year-old Mbappé was conquering the world stage with the exhilarating playing, Messi was promenading the field like an emperor. An old, tired emperor, who wore a green captain armband but did not lead. Neither with his sparkle nor with his body language. It was only the 30,000 Argentinian fans who cheered on their team and encouraged them to act. Ronaldo’s future remains uncertain Only then, when it was too late, as his dreary World Cup farewell was getting closer, great Messi was still sparkling. And it was a feast for the eyes. He deceived his opponents making these little hooks which only he mastered and dribbling easily past each opponent and scored a goal. In extra time, he sent a cross on Agüero’s head which was so precisely headed that the striker could only make 3:4. For sure, Lionel Messi is still in good shape, even at the age of 31, what is evidenced by those last impressive minutes in Kazan. Dressed in a national jersey, he has shown this only too rarely in recent years. Argentina's national team must change something. It is hard to imagine that Lionel Messi can be part of this change. The future of Cristiano Ronaldo as a player of the national team also remains uncertain after this World Cup. The 1.87-meter-tall and 84-kilogram model sportsman raised more questions than gave answers in the official interview with the World Federation FIFA on Saturday evening. As the Portuguese said, he believed that it was the wrong moment to talk about that. Passing his afterthought, he curried it off perfectly then: "I am sure that our lineup will continue being among the world’s best, with great players making up a fantastic, young team." Ronaldo wants to play till 40 Ronaldo's situation is different; it is not comparable to Messi's dilemma. Because Portugal's play strategy is not subject to a total dependence on "CR7". He is the team’s leader who has already become its driving force and the only world star. But in general, the team is so balanced that Ronaldo’s failure does not cause a system crash. Perhaps, it was the lesson from the final match of the 2016 European Championship when Portugal got the title despite Ronaldo’s early injury. Winning the European Championship also made Ronaldo more relaxed. A little bit, at least. The pressure and the burden of expectations from his homeland, they got shifted off him for the first time at the tournament in France. Although, he is not satisfied yet, because he still lacks really the great triumph: the "coronation" at the World Cup. There are still about 1600 days until the opening match of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Ronaldo would be 37 years old then. The world-famous footballer once said that he would like to continue playing till 40. Whether this is realistic that his body really can resist time for so long is in doubt. However, one thing is clear: both lost the opportunity to become world champions at the top of their careers. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Source: welt