(@ Record Newspaper)
I know what I wrote before on this same blog, but now I'm going to have to debate the diagnostic labeling of Ronaldo as narcissist. Nothing of the kind I’m Afraid - yes, impossibly good looking, yes there is the Ronaldo shrine in Madeira, indeed there are the pirouettes and the swashbuckling, muscle rippling equivalent of Colin Firth as Me Darcy, shirtless, sweaty and gleaming in the sun...but: to be a narcissist you have to have an emptiness inside where the soul sits - you got to have a lack of empathy for your comrades, family, lovers, children, nation- you have to have grandiose expectations of yourself that are at odds with reality...that is not the man we speak of. If you doubt it replay the final vs France in Euro ‘16. A truly spiritual moment in football if not recent cultural history. 20 mins in and injured, in agony, in tears for letting the team and himself down as he is stretchered off the pitch. One man down - and it’s Ronaldo FFS - and Portugal never gives up...then...then: in the last 5 mins, the oldest player in the Portuguese squad is encouraged onto the pitch by the team captain...all full of nerves and pride...and Ronaldo whispers into his ear: ‘I believe in you’...and the nameless hero goes on to score the winning goal in the last 3 mins of the match...when I saw that, whatever cynical doubts I may have entertained about the genius of Madeira evaporated into thin air...I really cannot believe what a machine Ronaldo is. The guy is tenacious on the pitch. He's not perfect by any means but he had a near perfect outing against Spain tonight. I really didn't want that match to end but that exactly what keeps us coming back for more matches like that one. If the rest of the World Cup matches are half as good as that then I think we're in for a ball this year. Kudos and more of the same please.
(@ A Bola Newspaper)
What we saw today, and have seen multiple times before, was a player who is determined, hard working, ruthless and has an incredible mental strength. How does one get that out-of-world focus and calm in the 88th minute of a World Cup match in which your team needs a goal? How? Ronaldo shows us time and again how it's done. Relish this while it lasts, though by all evidence he has no plans of slowing down. And for this year may be in the top 10 games of the tourney. This is football of the 70s and 80s. Ronaldo and Costa delivered the stuff of legends. Hats off to the Referee for keeping the players in check. A breathtaking finish. It was a universal "We want more!" chant at the end. An all-time classic. I wish those who are allergic to football and the World Cup could have seen this: it was the beautiful game in one of its best guises. The only problem is that it is hard to imagine it getting better.
(@ A Bola Newspaper)
Bottom-line: Outstanding. Plots, sub-plots, drama, skill, goals, pressure, conflicting styles, egos, errors, bonkers venue. Enough talking points to fill a 10 hour phone-in. 99 times out of 100 that Ronaldo free kick never goes in. That look Ronaldo gave after scoring the penalty. Bloody football eh? Ronaldo is outer-worldly; he's just what we need to have a credible claim to this World Cup. This match was football at its best; I doubt we'll watch a better, more intense, more skillful match in this tournament. Whom the gods love, the gods love. Piety knows nothing from logic. I see too many are still mixing the footballer with the man/personality. It's like, when talking of Van Gogh, fixating on the madman. The guy is 33, enjoy his game while it lasts, it will be a huge void after he and Messi retire. It's as a footballer that we should celebrate him, marvel at his skill and desire. It's sad because the hatred jaundices appreciation and inevitably mirrors; hatred never projects, it eats those who hate from the inside, until they're hollow and without credibility.
NB: Yep, Costa certainly gave Pep a forearm smash but the Portuguese defender should be ashamed at the way he reacted like a big jessie and allowed Costa to go and score rather than manning up and doing his job. Claret gushing out of your forehead and into your eyes? Get out a sewing needle and a length of crepe bandage and let's get on with it! Dislocated shoulder? Push the bugger back in and let's get going, we've a game to win! That's the attitude! Pepe got what his craven conduct merited, I just felt sorry for his teammates.
Coda: I confess that some posts in the Portuguese press depress me. They just provide an example of something resembling "sebastianismo", one of the most damaging facets of the "old school" Portuguese ethos. I want a brand new model of Portuguese. One that stops longing for the magnificence of Portugal 500 years ago and stops being depressed by the situation 50 years ago. I am an old model of Portuguese that is trying is best to transform in to a new model: one that believes in work ethic and innovation, one that does not have an inferiority complex. As someone has rightly said, Portugal is not just Lisbon and Porto. There are plenty of good, skillful, intelligent and talented Portuguese scattered around the World. For me that is the real Portugal. And the average is certainly not "little" or "intellectually poor".
Um abraço lusitano