Sunday’s final promises to be a fascinating clash between two European powerhouses. While predicting the winner is by no means an easy task, predicting the outcome of the sub-plots associated with this clash is equally daunting. One of them is the prospect of heartbreak that awaits either the Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo or his opponenet Antoine Greizmann.
Will the stars align for Ronaldo or will “Grizou” morph into a New Legend?
Will Ronaldo have a final laugh against Messi?
The competition between the two global superstars has become the stuff of legends. Constantly trying to one-up each other has led them to shatter some unbelievable records. Consistent 50 plus goals by Ronaldo and the 74 goal mark achieved by Messi give ample credence to the truth behind AC Milan legend Kaka’s joke of them “Extra terrestrial”. To score three Ballon D’Or against a Messi in his peak is a tribute to the sheer hardwork and determination that Ronaldo possesses. The Portuguese has always been on the Argentine’s toes since his arrival at Real Madrid but he has never been able to shrug off the “God’s gift” tag labelled on Messi. Though the Portuguese has broken numerous records, his inability to win a silverware with his national team has always led him to be compared to his nemesis at a club level. By winning the Euro final though, he may put an end to all those doubts. While the diminutive No 10 may have led Argentina to three successive finals for the last three years, he hasn’t able to drag them over the line. His announcement to retire from national duty has all but exhausted the possibility of emulating his compatriot and national icon Diego Maradona, it has also opened the door for Ronaldo to achieve something that Messi never has and possibly never will. The ultimate triumph with his country would also quench his thirst for his nation and place him among the pantheons of legends, one which his current Real Madrid Zinedine Zidane occupies. With all the accusations of being selfish and playing solely for the records, the win on Sunday would be a testament to his teamwork and an evidence of sacrifices he has made for his team this year. Maybe, just maybe it would provide him with immeasurable relief of finally upending Messi’s supremacy over him among the neutrals forever. The win also would be able to help him fulfill the promise that he displayed when he first burst on the international stage as a teenager in the run to his country’s march to the finals where they suffered shock defeat at the hands of Greece. He has all the talent he needs to do so. With the likes of Renato Sanches, Andre Gomes, Nani and Pepe among others, he finally has the talent required to reach the summit of European football. Will he create history or end simply being a part of one is to been Sunday.
Antoine Griezmann : Will “Grizou” take Center Stage?
When Juanfran missed the penalty for Atletico Madrid at San Siro on 28th May, he wasn’t the only one looking for a place to run away and be alone. His clubmate Griezmann too had felt the weight on his shoulders for quite some time in the match. Having been awarded a penalty, he only managed to rattle the goalpost. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco’s goal only seem to remind him what would have been the outcome of the match had he converted. While as painful as the experience may have been, it was a lesson to Griezmann on making the opportunities count. While he may have had been playing for a better team, he ended up on the losing side. Against Portugal on Sunday, the diminutive No 10 would be looking to exorcise the demons from the defeat at the hands of Real Madrid. Scoring the goal and winning the finals would not only place him alongside national icons Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane, it would also put to end the pain, if any, he may had as a result of the loss at San Siro. There is plenty of evidence to suggest for the fact too. Having displayed nerves in his opening game against Romania,he was subsequently benched for the next match. However, with the clock ticking down, he come on as a substitute and had a say on the matters by opening the scoring that ultimately resulted in the Les Blues victory. To count him out of the scoring charts for the finals would be foolhardy to say the least. The quality he has displayed for the last two seasons with Atletico and with France in this tournament suggest that a player of his quality is unlikely to have a quiet night.It would also,very rightly, put him alongside Cristiano Ronlado and Lionel Messi and vindicate the claims his club manager, Diego Simeone has made of him being “One of the 3 best players in the World”.
The final in Paris on Sunday may very well be the last chance Ronaldo has at national glory. Will he be able to achieve that remains to be seen.