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Why Portugal depend on Ronaldo less than Argentina depended on Messi.



Why Portugal depend on Ronaldo less than Argentina depended on Messi. 49



At first, it was because of depth.

Take a glance at ESPN’s Top 50 list for Qatar World Cup players, published over a month ago.

Portugal had 6 players on the list, ranked 28th, 27th, 23rd, 20th (Cristiano Ronaldo), 17th, and 16th. That means two players were ranked ahead of Ronaldo and three were only a few spots back, plenty of depth to support the team with or without Ronaldo’s help.

Compare that to Argentina. They only had two players on the list. Lionel Messi came in at a lofty 4th, but otherwise, the only other Argentine on the list was Lautaro Martinez, who came in at 34th. Is it any wonder, then, that Argentina depended on Messi so much?

By the end of the tournament, though, it became clear why Portugal did not depend on Ronaldo and why Argentina continued to depend on Messi: Ronaldo just wasn’t performing up to standard and Messi was having the best World Cup of his career.

A week before the final, NBC Sports published a Top 25 Player Ranking for the World Cup, and while Messi (deservedly) topped the list, Ronaldo did not earn an entry.

Instead, Portuguese player Bruno Fernandes ranked 7th, while two Argentines ranked 12th and 18th. Turns out Argentina had a lot more depth than analysts realized, and Portugal had to rely largely on Fernandez.

Overall, it’s not hard to see why Argentina relied on Messi. He was the best player of the World Cup and made himself indispensable in every single game. In the end, Ronaldo did manage one goal, but Messi finished with 7 goals and 3 assists, enough to win the Golden Ball and move him past Pele and Ronaldo for total World Cup goals.

Argentina was nothing without Messi, but Portugal had enough talent to survive without Ronaldo.