'Nobody gives you anything' – Ronaldo warns Messi must earn first World Cup triumph

By Sports Desk December 12, 2022 565

Brazil great Ronaldo says Lionel Messi's incredible achievements do not mean he deserves to win the World Cup and the Argentina captain must earn his shot at glory.

Messi provided a goal and an assist as Argentina overcame the Netherlands on penalties in the last eight, and he will hope to lead the Albiceleste to their sixth World Cup final when they meet Croatia in Tuesday's semi-final.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has assumed a talismanic role in Qatar, with his return of six goal contributions - four goals and two assists - only bettered by Kylian Mbappe, who has five goals and two assists.

Messi has both scored and assisted in two different games at this World Cup, and in three at the tournament overall. Since 1966, no player has done so on four occasions.

While praising Messi's performances, Ronaldo warned lifting the World Cup will not come easily for the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"We all deserve it. Nobody gives you anything, not even for your story," Ronaldo told reporters on Monday.

"Argentina isn't playing very well, but they play together, they're aggressive and then there's Messi, who is decisive when he's near the box. He now does less sprints than before.

"At the beginning of his career he did 30 actions and now he does 10, but he is still decisive. As soon as he gets the ball and he sees spaces, or is in the area, he is a killer.

"Would I be happy if Messi won the World Cup? Of course, I would be happy for him, but there is a big rivalry between Brazil and Argentina.

"I'm not going to be hypocritical and say that I would be happy for Argentina, that's not true!"

Messi will equal Lothar Matthaus' record of 25 World Cup appearances when he takes to the field on Tuesday, while a goal would see the 35-year-old surpass Gabriel Batistuta's tally of 10 World Cup strikes for the Albiceleste.

 

While Argentina remain in contention for a third World Cup triumph, their great rivals Brazil crashed out in the quarter-finals after losing a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Croatia.

The decision for Neymar to take Brazil's fifth and final penalty – a kick which never arrived due to Rodrygo and Marquinhos failing to convert – has attracted criticism, but Ronaldo does not view it as a mistake.

"I don't agree with any of the theories about the penalty shoot-out," he said. "I think changing the sequence... it's extremely delicate for you to approach a player and show that you don't have confidence in him, asking for another to take his place.

"That doesn't exist in football, in a group where everyone has full confidence in the coach and the nation. 

"You arrive and ask to change, this is a great absurdity. Those who support this theory do not understand the dynamics of a group."

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Last modified on Monday, 12 December 2022 11:34
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