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Real Madrid and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo: Coward or Doomed?

Angela AsanteCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2010

Real Madrid and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo: Coward or Doomed?

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    Cristiano Ronaldo’s club career is, statistically speaking, a successful one. The Real Madrid star ranks among the most dangerous player on the pitch, but can the same be said of CR9 when wearing a Portugal shirt?

    With reports confirming that Cristiano Ronaldo has shockingly overcome an expected three-week injury to return for Real Madrid after missing Portugal’s two Euro 2012 qualifying matches, we ask ourselves a few questions:

    Where is Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal career heading? Is there anything fishy between the Real Madrid star’s club football and international football career?

    As A Selecção seriously need to beat obstacles that obstruct the Portuguese team’s success, is Cristiano Ronaldo a coward or is he simply unlucky or helpless?

Cristiano Ronaldo’s First Years on Portugal’s Team

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    A scintillating performance from Cristiano Ronaldo throughout Euro 2004 turned the public’s attention on the then-19-years-old player who was experiencing his first ever major tournament with Portugal’s senior national team.

    Cristiano Ronaldo’s first moments with A Selecção will be remembered for his 2004 European Championship goals against Greece and the Netherlands, as Portugal went all the way to the final of the tournament only to lose again to eventual champions Greece.

    The energetic Cristiano Ronaldo and his national team mates just didn’t do enough to maintain the Euro 2004 trophy on home soil.

    Ronnie's disillusionment after the final whistle caught the eye of viewers who immediately portrayed the Portuguese as a "cry-baby."

    But looking at the inconsolable Cristiano Ronaldo weep so bitterly, one could sense that the youngster had vowed to do anything and everything from that moment to avoid any further disappointment with Portugal.

    "Perfectionist Ronaldo" would put extra efforts into his work in hopes of burying Portugal’s Euro 2004 fiasco.

"Perfectionist" Cristiano Ronaldo Driven By Obsession With Success

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    Debuting his international football career with a major trophy—which would have been the country’s first ever—might have injected something different, perhaps more special, in Cristiano Ronaldo’s career as an individual and as a jewel of the Portuguese nation.

    But fate revealed that nothing of this kind would happen as Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo had to give it another try.

    It actually seemed like Ronaldo walked well in line with his promise of bouncing back from his Euro 2004 disappointment.

    The winger netted seven goals to help Portugal qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and thus ranked as the second-highest goal scorer during the FIFA World Cup qualification campaign.

    There was no stopping Ronaldo. The grown kid from the Madeira Island was ready to use the 2006 World Cup and make a great show as he eyed a fruitful future in his football career.

    Cristiano Ronaldo’s wild desire to achieve success at all cost got marked by the player’s involvement in the unpopular incident which saw him encourage referee Horacio Elizondo to send off Manchester United pal Wayne Rooney during Portugal’s quarter-final match against England.

    This important moment in Cristiano Ronaldo’s professional life instantly created more images of the star winger: CR wasn’t only a “cry-baby,” he also transformed into England’s public enemy No. 1 while his mental and physical motivation to fight for success multiplied.

    From there, “guilty” Cristiano Ronaldo was seen as the anointed child, the invincible warrior that would transform his personal dreams into a reality at the benefit of Portugal’s national team following the departure of ex-skipper Luis Figo, which marked the end of another era in the country’s football history.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal Career: From Exciting to Disquieting

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    Under the request of Carlos Silva, Portugal’s Football Federation former president who died in February 2007, Cristiano Ronaldo was given the captain’s armband for the first time as he marked his 22nd birthday with a 2-0 victory over five-time World Cup champion Brazil in a friendly match.

    A great start for Ronnie at the captaincy level then, but it was only a year later that the current Real Madrid star was officially appointed as Portugal’s new skipper.

    As the ex-Manchester United playmaker led the Red Devils to UEFA Champions League and English Premier League success in 2008, he also worked out wonders in Portugal as he scored eight goals during the Euro 2008 qualifiers and led his team to the finals of the competition in Switzerland and Austria. But an injury blow distracted Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2008 European Championship campaign.

    The captain’s goal against the Czech Republic on match day two of the tournament proved to be Ronaldo’s sole genuine achievement, as Portugal crashed out from the quarterfinals at the expense of eventual runners-up Germany. The star winger had to undergo surgery a few weeks later and could only return to action in mid-September 2008.

    Despite failing to hit top form throughout the 2008/2009 season, Cristiano Ronaldo still managed to score over 20 goals for the Red Devils, as he helped them clinch the FIFA World Club Cup, the English Premier League, and the Carling Cup titles while they finished second-best behind crowned champions Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

    Later in 2009, Ronnie switched to Real Madrid where he enjoyed a great debut as an individual despite missing out two months of action although big spenders Los Blancos failed to clinch a single title.  

    In the meantime, Cristiano Ronaldo’s career in Portugal suffered a strange decline. The prolific goal scorer couldn’t bag a single goal throughout the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as Portugal were in serious danger of not reaching South Africa.

    The 2010 World Cup exposed Cristiano Ronaldo’s weaknesses as a captain. An easy goal against 7-0 losers Korea DPR didn’t manage to appease frustrated and demanding Portuguese supporters who blasted Cristiano Ronaldo’s unimpressive performances throughout the tournament.

    The Real Madrid superstar suffered a Round of 16 exit with Portugal following a 1-0 defeat to eventual World Cup winners Spain, and his bad behavior as he walked off the pitch came under heavy criticism.

    Six years back, football analysts had predicted and expected much more from the then-promising young Portuguese. But instead, what the public saw in South Africa was nothing more than an under-par show from Cristiano Ronaldo, the former UEFA Club Player, FIFA World Player, and Ballon d’Or winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal Career: What’s Up with the Real Madrid Superstar?

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    Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2010 World Cup match against Spain proved to be his last one for Portugal up to date. The 25-year-old national team skipper was actually ruled out from A Selecção’s first two Euro 2012 qualifying matches through injury.

    Medical reports had confirmed that Ronaldo could not take part in Portugal’s qualifiers against Cyprus and Norway as he had picked up a knock while playing for Real Madrid against Real Mallorca on match day one of La Liga. The injury was meant to keep Ronaldo out for three weeks, but the player showed his intent to work around the clock and return to action as soon as possible.

    Whereas Cristiano Ronaldo was left on the sidelines and in the gym, Portugal saw banned Carlos Queiroz sacked as coach following the team’s 4-4 draw and 1-0 loss in the Euro 2012 qualification to Cyprus and Norway respectively.

    Surprisingly, one day after the dismissal of Carlos Queiroz (the man who used to be accused of using Cristiano Ronaldo inappropriately in Portugal’s formations), Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho declared that the star winger was “100 percent fit” to play as he confirmed during a press conference:

    “Cristiano Ronaldo will start [against Osasuna]. I’m afraid that he might get injured again. I’m afraid that someone may injure him, but that’s something normal in football. He’s been training at least five hours a day at Valdebebas.

    “The Medical Staff and the player say he is 100 percent fit to play. So the risk of having him injured is the same as the rest of his [Real Madrid] team mates. He’ll play because he’s fit and because it will be a tough game.”

    Jose Mourinho’s statement and explanation won’t prevent multiple questions to flow and several assumptions to be created now. How shall we explain Cristiano Ronaldo’s decline in Portugal compared to his remarkable success in club football? Did Luiz Felipe Scolari’s departure and Carlos Queiroz’s arrival have a huge impact on Cristiano Ronaldo as a national team player?

    Does CR9—for some reasons—believe more in club football success than in Portugal’s chances of reaching the stars in international football? Onlookers will be curious to witness and compare Cristiano Ronaldo’s career both as a Real Madrid and Portugal player from now on as Carlos Queiroz’s reign has come to an end whereas the team is looking to reconstruct itself.

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