After that Piers Morgan interview, Cristiano Ronaldo has thrust himself in the limelight at just the right time. Can he now thrust Portugal to outright victory?
If the Ronaldo that plays for Manchester United arrives in Qatar, Portugal’s hopes of a first overall World Cup win will be severely diminished. If the Ronaldo that continues to break international scoring records arrives in the Middle East, they could go all the way to the final.
Whether Cristiano does ever play for the Red Devils again is something we will learn by the turn of the year and although he joins his fellow Portugal teammates under a backdrop of scrutiny and even outrage, the 37-year-old simply has success on his mind.
Success that comes in the form of not only winning the World Cup for himself and his country but also winning the Golden Boot and by extension also becoming the nation’s top scorer in the tournament.
While in terms of the latter of these potential accolades, the bookmakers think he is almost a certainty to rule the roost in Portuguese colours. The former Real Madrid star is priced as short as Evens at the time of writing.
Odds that will only decrease further as and when he gets off the mark and with Group H offering a rather favourable draw to Fernando Santos’ men, goals are not likely to be at a premium for the Euro 2016 winners.
Of course, goals are not at a premium for the man who has scored the most ever within the confines of international football. At the time of writing. Cristiano Ronaldo has 117 to his name, reaching 120 in Qatar looks more than achievable.
However, there is always a chance that he does not manage to reach 120 or even 118 for that matter and if the Red Devil fails to poke opposition defences, it may be down to his club teammate to do so instead.
Arriving at the tournament without the petulance that has recently been shown elsewhere, Bruno Fernandes may offer a more levelheaded approach to matters in front of goal – that is if he can get the ball off his colleague for both club and country.
With the taking of penalties and freekicks likely to offer an intra-team contest, it is one that Fernandes is likely to lose out on. Then again, if he is given the chance to slot home from either 12 or 25 yards, backing him could offer a considerable amount of value.
At odds of 8/1 the former Sporting Lisbon midfielder is much longer when it comes to pricing in the market and when you consider that he is the joint-second favourite, the genuine alternatives arguably start and end with him.
Then again, for every argument there is always a counterpoint to go with it and for those who feel that Portugal’s top scorer will not be employed by Manchester United, the answer could come in the shape of Rafael Leao.
With six Serie A goals to his name, he is doing best to reel in Napoli at the top of this season’s standings and although he is yet to open his account on the international stage, the likes of Ghana and South Korea may provide the perfect opposition to facilitate such an achievement.
It would certainly be an achievement if Leao was to finish as the nation’s top scorer during this year’s World Cup and maybe this is a bet that you should make in 2026. Because 2022 will once again be the year of Cristiano Ronaldo and especially at a price as short as Evens.