Previous
FK Qarabag
St Etienne
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Apollon Limassol
FC Zürich
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Borussia Monchengladbach
Villarreal
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Club Brugge
Torino
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Copenhagen
HJK Helsinki
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Besiktas
Asteras Tripolis
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FK Partizan Belgrade
Tottenham Hotspur
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Dinamo Zagreb
FK Astra Giurgiu
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SV Salzburg
Celtic
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Panathinaikos
Dinamo Moscow
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
PSV Eindhoven
Estoril
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Internazionale
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sevilla FC
Feyenoord Rotterdam
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Standard Liege
Rijeka
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Everton
VfL Wolfsburg
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Lille
Krasnodar
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
BSC Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Napoli
Sparta Prague
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Rio Ave
Dynamo Kiev
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Steaua Bucuresti
AaB
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Fiorentina
Guingamp
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
PAOK Salonika
Dinamo Minsk
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Legia Warsaw
KSC Lokeren
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Metalist Kharkiv
Trabzonspor
7:05 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Saprissa
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Metapan
Herediano
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Boca Juniors
Rosario Central
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Emelec
River Plate
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Racing Club
Argentinos Juniors
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Temperley
Unión de Santa Fe
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Corinthians
Chapecoense AF
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Goiás EC
Atlético MG
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Gremio
Santos FC
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportes Quindío
America Cali
12:30 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Cortuluá
Valledupar F.C.
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 3
Game Details
Next

Duarte: Dunga's return is complicated

Brazil Jul 21, 2014
Read
John Brewin profile picture Posted by John Brewin
Jun 25, 2014

Cristiano Ronaldo exits in frustration

Cristiano Ronaldo addressed the media following Portugal's 2-1 win over Ghana, indicating they created numerous opportunities but just could not convert.

The damage was already done but that did not ease the disappointment. This was supposed to be the World Cup in which Cristiano Ronaldo reached his peak. Instead, it was his worst yet.

When Russia 2018 comes around, Ronaldo will be 33, with 15 arduous years at the top behind him. He might now have to accept that 2006, when he was but 21, was his golden month at the global showpiece. He has not gotten any worse as a player, but is entitled to feel aggrieved about the ever-dwindling talent that he must perform alongside. Without him, Portugal would not have been in Brazil, but even with him, they were not good enough to survive longer than three matches.

Few winning goals will be celebrated as sourly as Ronaldo's in Brasilia. Ghana were beaten, but then so, already, were Portugal.

PortugalPortugal
GhanaGhana
2
1
FT
Match 46
Game Details

"We created many opportunities but we could not finish them," Ronaldo said postmatch after making a slow, pronounced limp to the rostrum to deliver some short words. His only smile was to a flashing camera as he received the man-of-the-match award. "We knew we had to score three goals and were depending on the result of the Germany game and we couldn't do that.

"We deserved more but that's football. We are leaving with our heads held high," he concluded, looking anything but proud of his team's achievements.

Now, he can only look on as both Lionel Messi and Neymar, on four goals each, travel deep into the tournament while he departs with just a single goal scored in a lost cause. After the superhuman efforts of 2013, including his playoff devastation of Sweden to power Portugal to Brazil, the last year of his 20s looks like a climbdown from the peak that reclaimed him the Ballon d'Or after the wait that so pained him.

Winning the Champions League in Lisbon might have sated some, but there has never been any doubt about Ronaldo's pursuit of individual honours. Were Messi or Neymar to win the World Cup, he has no hope of keeping his most prized possession for a second successive year.

Cristiano Ronaldo looks exasperated against Ghana.

He tried his level best in Brazil, but was always fighting the knee problem that has hampered him since April, and was a leading factor in his poor performance in that Lisbon final.

There were accusations among the press contingent that Ronaldo's scoring only one of five chances against Ghana was the cause of Portugal's exit but football is never so simple. A less obvious but more valid truth is that none of his colleagues are capable of getting into the positions he found in the first place. Eder, a man mountain with the turning circle of a tugboat, is not even close to the required quality, and looked a hopeless foil for his captain.

Hugo Almeida's worthiest contribution to the tournament ended up being the magnificent moustache he sported in his sole appearance before he succumbed to injury. His loss was only felt in the sense that it meant that Eder would play instead.

Such is the paucity of quality around him that Ronaldo, for all his ailments, was regularly found foraging in the deep, due to a lack of decent service from all but the ever dependable Joao Moutinho. Despite the heroics of both Neymar and Messi, the World Cup is no place for a one-man team; even Diego Maradona's 1986 triumph was supported ably by lieutenants like Jorge Valdano, Jorge Burruchaga and Jose Luis Brown.

Though he often comes in for significant criticism, the loss of Real colleague Fabio Coentrao during the Germany disaster was a huge blow to Paulo Bento's game plan. The overlapping full-back's runs from deep often create space for Ronaldo to devastate from. On the other flank, Nani has been out of form for so long his flashes of brilliance are now a distant memory and few players will exit Brazil having been so wasteful of possession in promising positions; Ronaldo's exasperation with his former Manchester United clubmate is barely concealed.

How he must wistfully recall the days of Euro 2004 and Germany 2006, where he was a young pup alongside players of the class of Luis Figo, Deco and Rui Costa. Portugal never had decent strikers then, either, but at least there were others to take on the burden.

In truth, the die for eventual failure was cast by that horrendous opening performance against the Germans in Salvador. As Bento said in Brasilia, "It became a huge handicap."

Ronaldo, barely fit, was a bystander to the car crashes taking place around him. Meanwhile, the assist for Silvestre Varela's equaliser in Manaus against the U.S. was akin to a high-performance vehicle creaking into gear after being mothballed in a garage for a year. He still knew what to do, but his contribution could only be fleeting.

Though he had recovered more of his old self by the Ghana game, it was still not nearly enough. It is unlikely he will remember Brazil 2014 fondly. He departs a stage set for his greatest rivals.

John Brewin

Based in London, from where he covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. He reported from the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and was formerly a senior editor of ESPNsoccernet.