Move over Messi, CR7 is now the world's finest

Move over Messi, CR7 is now the world's finest

SECOND LEG

SWEDEN 2

(Zlatan Ibrahimovic 68, 72)

PORTUGAL 3

(Cristiano Ronaldo 50, 77, 79)

l Portugal qualify 4-2 on aggregate

The World Cup began Wednesday morning.

Master of ceremonies Cristiano Ronaldo declared the tournament open not by cutting a ribbon, but by slicing through the Swedes.

The greatest show on Earth will be blessed by the presence of its greatest showman.

Portugal's 3-2 win over Sweden was more than World Cup qualification. It was the passing of the baton.

Like an Olympic torch being handed down by a weary campaigner, Lionel Messi's prized mantle changed hands in the Friends Arena.

But there was nothing friendly about the exchange. This was a hostile takeover. Real power isn't genially passed along. It must be seized.

Ronaldo became the finest footballer in the world through force of will.

He combined beauty and brute strength in such captivating fashion that comparisons within his own sport no longer justify his dictatorial dominance with a football.

Rafael Nadal comes closest. They are Iberian cousins, divided by an artificial geographical border but united by a natural genetic order.

As sportsmen, they have successfully married talent with muscular tenacity, literally changing their body shape to overcome the balletic attributes of their major rivals.

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