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Messi, Neymar carry their teams, but Ronaldo shaky

  • Dhiman Sarkar, Hindustan Times, Brasilia
  • Updated: Jun 24, 2014 15:41 IST

Like Neymar and Messi, he was expected to single-handedly pull strings for his team, Portugal. But while Brazil and Argentina ride on the slender shoulders of their inspirational No 10s, Cristiano Ronaldo seems unable to carry the weight.

On Sunday, a dejected Ronaldo described his team as "average", a side ravaged by injuries and suspensions with the captain himself hobbled by tendinitis in his knee.

"There are no miracles. We knew we would have a tough group... We have to be humble and know our level...," he said, after Portugal somehow pulled off a draw against USA to keep faint qualification hopes going.

The first round of this World Cup has already seen a giant fall — defending champions Spain got eliminated after two straight defeats.

Ronaldo had arrived in Brazil in pomp, the Fifa World Player of the Year having helped Real Madrid reclaim the Champions League title after agonising 10-year wait.

Coming after such successes, he was expected to ignite the tournament but instead he struggled to shake off his knee problem. He has been reduced to jogging through matches rather than producing those electrifying runs, stunning ball control and shots – be it open play or free kicks.

Germany thrashed Portugal 4-0 and in the USA game Ronaldo was anonymous until an assist to Silvestre Varela helped Portugal to a draw.

Portugal’s hopes are slim. With a goal difference of minus 4, they need to beat Ghana by at least five goals and then hope Germany and USA don’t draw their last game — if they do Portugal are out.

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