Ronaldo dares you to stare at his magic eye underpants.
Cristiano Ronaldo is 35 years old and although he keeps himself, miraculously, in Marvel Cinematic Universe shape, he is, at last, in decline. Gazzetta dello Sport rated him the worst player on the pitch in Wednesday’s Italian Cup final, which saw Napoli beat Ron’s Juventus on penalties (that’s two finals in a row he’s lost now, for the first time in his career).
The. Worst. Player. On. The. Pitch. You could probably count on one hand the number of games in which Ronaldo was the worst player on the pitch – I genuinely can’t recall Messi ever having a proper, open-all-the-windows stinker, even for Argentina. And this was no one-off. Ronaldo was also terrible against AC Milan in the semi-final, missing a penalty and generally looking like he just doesn’t have it anymore.
There is a sense that Ronaldo doesn’t gel with the style of high-pressing football encouraged by Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri, but he’s never really struggled to adapt before, simply because he was good enough to play pretty much how he wanted, and damn any system. After the defeat to Napoli, Sarri even accused his star player of “lacking the sharpness to do what works best for him”.
Fair enough, you might say. Give him a break. The man has spent nigh on 15 ruddy years as one of the two apex predators of world football. His decline is inevitable. Lionel Messi will lose his gilt edge too, albeit probably not for another year or two, which will grind Ronaldo’s gears, you can be sure.
Of course this criticism might spur Ronaldo – the most competitive of people – into a frenzied bout of vintage form, off the back of a new regime of 10,000 abdominal crunches before breakfast. But when Luca Toni is slagging you off for not being able to dribble past a defender, perhaps the writing is, finally, on the wall.
Here endeth this hot take.