The 2013-14 season has been a sensational one for Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and he already has a Ballon d'Or, European Golden Boot and Champions League trophy to show for it.
The Real Madrid winger will travel to Brazil in the form of his life, and on the back of a phenomenal win in the UEFA Champions League final:
But for all of his greatness, his storybook 2013-14 campaign won't be culminating with a World Cup win.
Ronaldo is a mercurial talent, the likes of which you only see once or twice in a generation. His blend of technique, scoring ability and raw athleticism is rare, and if you add Ronaldo's incredible work ethic to the mix, you end up with a truly special player.
As shared by Football_Tweet, some of his statistics are truly mind-boggling:
He's the kind of player any manager would want to build a team around, and any teammate would want to see standing in front of him in the tunnel. Ronaldo is greatness personified, and fans should consider themselves blessed they get to watch him play week after week.
One great player does not a great team make, however, and Portugal are by no means a great team. They're not a bad team, either, but they're flawed in more ways than one.
It starts with just the selection. In goal, none of Eduardo Carvalho, Rui Patricio or Beto will strike fear into the hearts of opposing strikers. There's no Manuel Neuer, Iker Casillas or Gianluigi Buffon here.
The Real duo of Fabio Coentrao and Pepe are world-class, but the same can't be said of Bruno Alves, who has always failed to live up to his enormous potential.
Joao Moutinho provides the team with a strong presence in the centre of the pitch, but Miguel Veloso, Raul Mereiles and Nani are far cries from the players people once thought they could become. William Carvalho, meanwhile, could be world-class one day, but right now, he's a 22-year-old with limited international experience.
Even in the attacking third, it's a similar story. There's Ronaldo, and then there's the rest. Helder Postiga and Hugo Almeida are serviceable players, but they're not world-beaters.
This current squad is a far cry from Portugal's golden generation, which featured players like Maniche, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, Deco and Pauleta. Ronaldo played with those legends as a youngster, and they came agonisingly close to the ultimate prize, with a semi-final berth in 2006.
The squad was done no favours when the World Cup groups were selected, either. Germany, Ghana and even the USA will push Portugal to the extreme if they wish to emerge from the tournament's Group of Death. SoccerByIves' Ives Galarcep couldn't help but make a comparison to the 2002 World Cup:
The match against the USA will be played at the dreaded Arena Amazonia in Manaus, and the extreme heat could have an effect not just on that match, but on the fitness of both teams for the rest of the tournament.
Common sense dictates Portugal should emerge from Group G as the runners-up behind Germany, at which point a round-of-16 date with Belgium seems a likely scenario.
The Belgians will have a far easier path to the round of 16, and while they don't have a player of the caliber of Ronaldo on their squad (who does?), their squad is deeper and more balanced than that of Portugal and not lacking for star power, either.
The road wouldn't get any easier beyond that match, and at this point, the Portuguese squad will have played four matches against top competition, including one at Manaus.
There's only so much a team can take, and Portugal simply don't have the depth to survive such a brutal schedule.
Ronaldo is the greatest player in the world, but players don't win world titles. They can decide a match that sits on a knife's edge, but even Ronaldo isn't great enough to carry this team all the way to the final.
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