We’ve been here before. The all-too familiar plot, a supporting cast that doesn’t do a very good job of the one thing expected of them – support, and two knights in armour showing the slightest hint of rust, at either end.
It’s Lionel Messi versus Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet another chance for the ideal narrative to play out: each leads their evidently deficient team to victories, gallantly fighting the big names, the favourites, to set up an Argentina vs Portugal final. A Messi vs Ronaldo s ..
For Ronaldo, though, the time between that humiliating first round exit at Brazil 2014 to featuring in his third Cup in Russia, has been much happier. Portugal won the European Championships in 2016, in a triumph that can only be rivaled by Greece’s Euro 2004 win for its banality, even as he hobbled off the final early.
Both Argentina and Portugal go to Russia as outsiders, peering to see that sanctified circle of favourites, hoping for a slip-up, a favourable roll of the draw, any sign ..