People can say whatever negative things they want to about Cristiano Ronaldo, but one thing no one should doubt at this stage of his career is his dedication to football.
Ronaldo has grown into a professional and immensely talented football player at Real Madrid.
His love of football and competitive spirit has a problematic downside: Ronaldo has a tendency to play through injuries and make them worse.
It was injuries that benched him for a chunk of Real Madrid’s season, and though he made enough of a recovery to participate in a glorious Champion’s League final, his overall health is still a bit fuzzy.
The Portuguese captain told a roomful of reporters, “I would like to be 110% fit but I am 100% fit and that should be enough to help the national team.”
Ronaldo said that he believes he can “make a difference” for his team, but also emphasized that Portugal's progression in the World Cup will require a team effort.
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) June 16, 2014
He does not expect that he can carry the team on his own, since many have long thought of Portugal’s national team as pretty much a "one man show".
Despite his sentiments, it’s not beyond Cristiano Ronaldo to try his best to be that one man that carries a lackluster national team. The star athlete is known to go above and beyond at times and strain himself, which is very concerning.
There have been numerous injuries already in the World Cup, and we’re not even through the first full week of competition. If Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t truly as fit as he is letting on, is it an unnecessary risk to start him?
— EWN Sport (@EWNsport) June 16, 2014
It’s hard to say. Portugal’s first World Cup match will be against the formidable Germany. Denied in the semifinals by defending champion Spain, the nation will be seeking to get their revenge. Anyone in their way, including Portugal, may very well be trampled on their climb towards the top.
This could be an important game for Portugal, but it may not be winnable regardless of whether or not Cristiano plays. However, games against Ghana and the United States may be far less risky. Giving Cristiano more time to rest and playing for the draw against Germany may make more sense than throwing caution to the wind.
If Portugal loses its talisman now with those two teams still to face, we could see Ghana or the United States take advantage of a severely weakened Portugal and advance to the next stage.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) June 16, 2014
Portugal may not want to be thought of as a team carried by Ronaldo, but risking Ronaldo early on is something that the manager should think long and hard about prior to their first World Cup match.
Image via Wikimedia Commons