Soccer aficionados have learnt the biggest lesson in the game, the best teams don’t have the best players and the best players are not in the best teams. The two football giants of the current generation, The Argentine MESSIah and Portuguese Magician Ronaldo were both eliminated in the last 16 knockout stage of the World Cup. The two individuals have managed to win the Ballon d’OR back to back for the last ten years exchanging the greatest football award between themselves shadowing out other worthy players in their generation. Messi carried his lackluster Argentina who narrowly escaped to qualify for the 2018 World Cup Ronaldo on the other side had inspired his Portuguese team to win the EURO 2016 at the expense of the talented French legion. Both were rewarded the skippers’ arm band thus the burden of carrying their teams was doubled. The two built football around individuals not a team effort, the dynamics have however changed teams like Denmark,Iceland,South Korea,Uruguay and Japan have shown that football remains a collective effort with glimpses of individual brilliance not a one man show with the remaining 10 players acting as flower girls.
Lionel Messi, 31 and Cristiano Ronaldo’s, 33 dream of winning the World Cup trophy with their national teams were shattered by a defeat to France and Uruguay respectively. Arguably, their current age wouldn’t see them participate in the 2022 world cup and if they do, they would not be as effective as they are at the moment. Comparisons and dissimilarities have been drawn between the duo to determine who is the football crème de la crème of the current generation. Be that as it may, Messi and Ronaldo have shown they are both the best in their own ways evidenced by the world coming together to mourn their World Cup exit at unexpected early stage. An indication that it is a joy – to be missed watching them.
The five time each Ballon Do’r winners were looking forward to outshine each other in the tournament in contemplation of breaking this tie for either to be Greatest Of All Time (GOAT). Coincidentally, they were both eliminated on the same day and at the same stage. For Messi, it was much of a shocker as his team recorded a shaky start and they were fortunate to go past group stage. Many thought it was the perfect epoch for Argentina to awaken the demon within but France was too hot for them to handle. On the other hand, Ronaldo impressed in Portugal’s opener as he registered a hat-trick in a six goals thriller against Spain. Cristiano was in the lead to break the five time Ballon Do’r tie with Messi only to fall short against Uruguay, a team whose strength lies in defence not attack despite having two of the best goal poachers in the World in the name of Luis Suarez –El Pistolero and Edison Cavani- El Matador.
Despite their world cup nightmare, Messi and Ronaldo are viable to win World’s Best Player award based on heroics they achieved with their clubs. Therefore, is it fair to judge them on the little they have done in the short span of their play in Russia or it is time to drop the Messi-Ronaldo cogitation and award Ballon D’or to the one who will be quite a feather in his cap in the Russia showdown?
19 year old Kylian Mbappe’s brace against Argentina made him the first teenager to score more than one goal in a world cup match equaling Brazilian legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento popularly known as Pele did so against Sweden in the final of 1958. Mbappe equaled Pele’s record on the same day that saw Messi and Ronaldo, giants of world football fell alluding to a new era of football legends. Whether Mbappe will match Pele only time will tel but the kid has all it takes to build a legacy like Pele, Maradona, Messi and Cristiano. Let’s lie in wait for the wonders that Mbappe has for us or will the pressure be too much for him like other youngsters who caved in after comparisons to Messi and Ronaldo. Mbappe seems to be extra ordinary his pace,precision and decisiveness make him a wonder kid and a footballing gem.
Apart from Mbappe, stars like Eden Hazard and Neymer have a good opportunity to showcase their prowess in pursuit for Ballon Do’r award as they both assisted their clubs to clinch silver wares at the end of the season.
Who will be the talk of the world after Messi and Ronaldo?