With the iconic No. 7 mostly attributed to his name, Cristiano Ronaldo is on the verge of copping another sacred integer with reference to his age.
February 5th is the day the Real Madrid and Portuguese sensation turns 33. The year 2018 also modestly signifies the make or break moment in the life of one of the game’s greatest-ever.
Cristiano Ronaldo has reached the stage where he can potentially attain a higher level of re-invention or, on the other hand, be crucified by haters. Here’s why his 33rd year on Planet Earth is a delicate moment in his life and that of his die-hard fans:
First mission: win three Champions League titles in a row
The first of such instances where the talismanic forward could make a claim for himself lies in the herculean task of helping Real Madrid win the UEFA Champions League for a third successive time. Thanks to his goals, Los Blancos managed to progress to the Last16 despite a rather topsy-turvy campaign in the group stages that saw them finish second behind Tottenham Hotspur.
To deepen their predicament, the Spanish club has been handed a tie with free-scoring Paris Saint-Germain in the next round of their quest to defend their European title. Should Ronaldo and his comrades fortuitously march past the Parisians, odds are on for them to go all the way in the competition to clinch a historic three UCL titles in a row.
However, while prospective grandeur and immortality dangles off the ceiling in the Galactico’s citadel, the possibility of failure and becoming a comic piece also lurks in the shadows. Simply put, Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid could botch the UEFA Champions League and end the 2017/2018 season cupless.
Should Los Merengues’ fiercest rivals Barcelona advance farther than they do, the Madeira-born superstar will become the laughing stock of anti-fans who’ll scream “Messi for Ballon d’Or” even before the FIFA World Cup in Russia begins. With La Liga totally gone along with the Copa del Rey, failure in Europe would undoubtedly mean game over for the current world best player.
Second mission: attaining immortality via World Cup glory
In a steady spectrum, the upcoming FIFA World Cup also presents another opportunity for the Portuguese skipper to eternally engrave his name in the history of his nation Portugal. Having earned much respect by leading the country to its first-ever major trophy by clinching the EURO 2016, winning the biggest trophy on the planet will be an unprecedented feat.
This might sound far-fetched considering the likes of usual favorites Germany, Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, etc. will also be out there fighting for glory. However, should Portugal hit the ground running with performances similar to the ones witnessed in the competition’s qualifiers, Cristiano Ronaldo and his colleagues could have something to smile about come July 15, 2018.
Relatively, it will be “Hello Crucifixion” for the Seleccao skipper should they endure in Russia a World Cup campaign as poor as the one in 2014. For Ronaldo, age is just a number. Yet, from a realistic perspective, this summer’s global fiesta might be his last chance playing at the highest level at a World Cup with Portugal.
The efficient goal poacher is able to pull out the extraordinary when one least expects but it is likely he won’t be in the right frame and shape to lead the charge at the next intercontinental competition, come 2022. Should Messi fire Argentina to glory or do better than Cristiano Ronaldo, then 2018 could end up being a very miserable year for the former Manchester United man.
In a nutshell, while we celebrate a football demigod on his special day, we must also brace ourselves as avid fans for the challenges yet to befall him. Crucifixion or reinvention? A new chapter begins as Ronaldo turns 33.