There’s a whole new generation of young players that look set to take over the footballing world, but for now, the attention of football lovers remains focused on one man alone – Cristiano Ronaldo.
The man is a footballing machine, and like a fine wine, he seems to be getting better with age. Now at the ripe old age of 34 (old for a footballer), the Portuguese national team captain has just scored his 99th international goal. That puts him ten goals behind Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals.
Can he beat the record?
The man himself has no intention of hanging up his boots, according to Ronaldo7.net.. His desire to win the world cup will see him stay in the international game for at least another two years, and that’s a lot of football matches. The next international break comes in March, but as of yet, the opponents are unknown.
Having qualified for the Euro 2023 championship, Portugal will likely play two friendly games during this break. Should Ronaldo stay fit, there’s a chance he may add to his tally, although this will depend on his club football. If Juventus are doing well in the Champions League, he may make himself unavailable for the matches. In truth, though, we can’t see that happening at all.
His best chance to score more goals may not be the tournament itself, but in the warm-up matches beforehand. These games are often against teams that haven’t qualified for the tournament, so his chances of scoring against a weaker defense will be pretty good.
But this is Ronaldo, and we can’t imagine anyone betting against his scoring in Euro 2023. How many goals he gets will no doubt depend on the number of matches played, and the reigning champions should, at the very least, make it to the quarters.
The group stage will be three matches, and then there’s the round of 16 followed by the quarters, semis, and the final if Portugal makes it to the final (and it’s a big if), Ronaldo could have as many as six games at the tournament. It’s not inconceivable that should this happen Ronaldo could score perhaps three goals.
However, standing in his way is the might of both Germany and France. Group F has been christened as the ‘group of death’ and with excellent reason. Portugal, the current European champions will face off against both France, the current world champions, and Germany, the 2014 world champions. They will also have a third opponent who is yet to be decided.
So while we say that Portugal should make the quarter-finals, that’s assuming that they play well. And to be honest, they’ll have to be at their very best against the current and former world champions. This is where it gets interesting. Ronaldo has played in 15 matches against the supposed ‘big five’ teams of Europe.
That’s twice against England, three times against France, three times against Germany, twice against Italy, and five times against Spain. In all of those games, he has scored only three goals, and they all came in one match vs. Spain at the 2018 World Cup.
By his standards, that’s quite worrying as we head into a tournament where he will play at least two games against opponents that he has failed to score against in six matches. But again, as we said earlier, this is Ronaldo. He certainly stepped up to the plate with that phenomenal hat-trick vs. Spain, and hopefully, he can do something similar against France and Germany.
World Cup Qualifying
When Euro 2023 is done, Ronaldo will then turn his attentions to the World Cup in Qatar. Qualifying should involve at least eight games, and then the tournament itself will present him with another six.
His record in qualifying campaigns is exemplary, and this is likely the time that we may see him breaking Ali Daei’s record. He will undoubtedly score goals, and we imagine he’ll run riot against the lower-ranked teams as he always seems to do. The likes of Georgia, Macedonia, or even Malta could feel the pain in a very bad way if the record is within sight which we imagine it will be by then. Of course, this all depends on a favorable draw for Portugal, but barring a complete meltdown in the squad, we really can’t see the national team failing to qualify for Qatar.
Before the World Cup, there will then be a few warm-up games which are likely to be played in the Middle East to allow the players to acclimatize to the conditions. These games will likely be against Qatar’s neighboring countries who have failed to qualify for the World Cup itself. And with all due respect, they might not be able to deal with a Ronaldo intent on breaking a record.
The World Cup will see Portugal (they will qualify, right?) face off against three opponents before a round of 16. Portugal will always be favorites to make it through any group stage at a tournament, so unless we have another group of death scenarios as we have with Euro 2023, then there should be at least four matches to add to his goal tally.
And who knows, perhaps they might even make it to the final and lift the cup itself. After all, lifting the World Cup is the one dream that Ronaldo has yet to fulfill, and we imagine he’ll be extremely motivated in his final international tournament.
So all in all, if he stays relatively fit and plays each game, Ronaldo could have another 20+ matches for Portugal. And even more, if he decides not to retire after Qatar. With his ability, the chances of him scoring at least ten goals in those matches are pretty high. We might even say it’s highly likely, but we don’t want to jinx him! Can he do it? We certainly hope so.