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Admit it: You expected Ronaldo to fail. You expected him to miss chances, to go missing, to come up short in his bid to pull Portugal through to the quarterfinals of the European Championships. You had in your mind the story of that game well before the first ball was kicked. At no point in your imagined narrative did Ronaldo do anything but fluff a great chance, dive and whine, fall on his face. You expected him to fail.
Why, exactly? Because, until yesterday, that’s just what he always did? Of course, not every game Ronaldo has played for his country has been a disaster, but that hardly mattered; in the black and white world of football, where we clamor for everything to fit into it’s perfect place or contrive of a story line that pushes players and teams into conveniently malleable boxes of predetermined type, Ronaldo always choked for Portugal. And even if he didn’t choke, he never really did enough.
And yes, on the biggest stages, he hadn’t lifted A Selecção to great heights all by his lonesome. Never mind that Portugal’s reputation for bottling big games predated Ronaldo by a generation, or that marking Cristiano out of the game was always the A-1 goal of every team against whom they played. This was all on him now. In the eternal debate of Ronaldo v. Messi, while the latter is off on a tour of the Americas wowing massive crowds in Elvisian spectacles of his greatness (without any of the pesky burden of the games actually mattering, it should be noted), Ronaldo is very, very distant second. Or so some would have you believe.
It’s a false dichotomy, that one is clearly and provably better than the other. Ronaldo is Ronaldo, a supremely different type of player to Lionel Messi in so many ways that it makes comparing them an odd exercise to devote much effort to. There are many variables at play. And, let’s not forget that Messi hasn’t always delivered for his country either, a situation that for a very long time resulted his strange lack of appreciation in Argentina. These things are invariably more complicated then we pretend they are.
The story now is that Cristiano showed up when he was most needed, flipping the script. But if Portugal go out to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, especially if Ronaldo doesn’t score and even if plays very well, you can bet that we’ll all pretend the script was never actually flipped at all.
“Oh, that game against the Netherlands? An aberration. He’s the same old Ronaldo.”
And then we can pretend we were right all along.
PHOTO: WELL, ACTUALLY, THERE’S KINDA TWO RONALDOS. AND ONE OF THEM JUST SMOKED YOU.
Dutch fans show what they think of Cristiano Ronaldo before the Portugal-Netherlands match. (AP Photo)
IN A LOT OF WAYS, CITY’S WIN REALLY WAS LIKE THE COMPUTER WAS CHEATING…
In the aftermath of City’s historic Premier League win on the final day, 5 million players tried to recreate the feat in FIFA 12. 5 million. // Deadspin
THERE MIGHT BE A JUST A DOLLOP OF SARCASM CONTAINED IN THE HEADLINE. A LARGE DOLLOP.
As the Italians face the prospect of going out if Spain and Croatia play to a multi-goal draw, the rest of us chuckle at the irony of it all. // NYT Goal Blog
SURE, IT’S FINE FOR KUN AQUERO, BUT WHO REALLY WANTS DIEGO FOR A FATHER-IN-LAW?
Amidst rumors he’s been sacked as manager of Al Wasl, Diego was back in Argentina attending the premier of a documentary made by his older daughter Dalma about her experience as the child of El Diego. He then encouraged the gathered press to chase Dalma, as she’s “single and lovable.” // Futbolita
PHOTO: PREPARE FOR A LIFETIME OF PAIN, KID. WHICH IS WAY BETTER THAN BEING A GLORY HUNTING JERK.
Little Polish fan is cute, has his first taste of rank disappointment. (Getty Images)
QUICK, SOMEONE MAKE AN AMERICAN VERSION OF THIS FOR THE DATE NOTATION-CHALLENGED.
Here’s a graphic with the full 2012/13 Premier League fixture list, because you know you’re anxious to find out when Reading play Stoke. // 101GG
‘BEWARE SWEDISH SPIES’ IS AN OLD SAYING THAT I JUST MADE UP.
A Swedish journo spied on England’s planning room, gave the Swedes a dossier on what he saw. It sure helped a lot. As a neutral, I almost wish Sweden had won just to see the English press melt down over this. // Off the Post
RAISE A TOAST TO THE J-LEAGUE, 20 YEARS OLD AND COMING INTO ITS OWN.
The J-League turns 20, and while it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, things are looking good for Japan’s first and only professional league. // IBWM
PHOTO: I WILL NOW CAREFULLY AVOID ANY JOKE THAT MAKES MENTION OF GREECE’S CRUSHING DEBT PROBLEM. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Greece wins, the people take to the streets in tiny cars! Germany next! This is sure to spawn a billion unfunny jokes about debt and bailouts and austerity and exiting the Euro. Hooray. (Getty Images)
THE MOST ENGLISH OF THE ENGLISH LAUDS THE ENGLISH.
A review of England’s win over Sweden from a man with a proper English perspective on a proper English performance. // twohundredpercent
SPEAKING OF THINGS THAT ARE VERY ENGLISH. ROONEY DEBATE.
With Ukraine last, England will have Wayne Rooney back in the lineup. I think the important question is: Will his hair look crap? // Bleacher Report
TODAY AT THE EUROS: SPAIN WINKS, CROATIA NODS, ITALY SWEATS, IRELAND SINGS.