Under-the-radar Ronaldo will remind the world of his talents
For someone who won world player of the year titles only last season it seems remarkable how little Cristiano Ronaldo is being talked about ahead of the World Cup.
The Portuguese forward may have failed to add to his collection of club medals after a first season with Real Madrid but his star has continued to rise.
Ronaldo scored 33 in 35 games for the Galacticos, coming ahead of David Villa in La Liga top scorer table and second only to Lionel Messi in the Champions League Golden Shoe race. In all he had an astonishing 107 shots on target.
He will undoubtedly be Carlos Queiroz’s best hope for success at this summer’s tournament and such is Ronaldo’s bond with the former Manchester United assistant the duo could work wonders on the world’s biggest stage.
Ronaldo will take penalties and free-kicks for his country and possesses the ability to single-handedly steam-roller a limited North Korea side in his second match.
His long-range shooting could also benefit from the supposedly unpredictable Jabulani ball in the tougher group games against Brazil and Ivory Coast.
With all this factored in his top scorer tag of 16/1 looks very generous. Indeed, such is his importance to an otherwise average Portugal team he could well produce a Zidane-esque solo show, and leave him standing out as player of the tournament – a 25/1 shot.
It’s probable he will, like the Frenchman four years ago, drag his country further than expected in the competition, most likely into a round of 16 clash with rivals Spain. And last time the sides faced each other in a major tournament the smaller nation triumphed, 1-0 at Euro 2004.
Should penalties be needed in that potential last-16 tie, you would have to back the Portuguese, they have never lost a competitive shoot-out while Spain lost on spot-kicks 2002 World Cup and Euro 1996. With a scalp such as that a Portugal and Ronaldo combo would suddenly look a great bet.