Ronaldo's needs

Ronaldo's needs

GROUP G

GERMANY 4

(Thomas Mueller 12pen, 45+1, 78, Mats Hummels 32)

PORTUGAL 0

There are times when it is very hard to feel sorry for Cristiano Ronaldo.

This was not one of them.

Watching the World Player of the Year thrashing around helplessly as his team collapsed around him was a distinctly uncomfortable experience, worsened by the realisation that this may be his last World Cup, or at least the last World Cup at the peak of his powers.

Ronaldo, startlingly to those who will always remember him as the spaghetti-haired youngster sent to learn his trade under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, is now 29.

When the 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia, he will be 33 and a very different player, if indeed he is still playing.

When you have been the very best for so very long, it can be hard to motivate yourself as your powers fade.

Portugal were knocked out in the semi-finals of Ronaldo's first World Cup in 2006 and he left the field in tears.

In 2010, it was even worse as they were eliminated by Spain in the first knock-out round, despite having negotiated the hardest group.

This year was supposed to be different, even after Portugal were again handed a horrendous draw.

But Ronaldo, for all of his efforts, is quite clearly out of sorts.

A lingering knee injury from the end of Real Madrid's season continues to affect his movement and his pace and a furious desperation to find a way to compensate for his shortcomings has seen him snatch at his chances.

His late free-kick against Germany, an abysmal effort that skidded off the turf into the ankles of a one-man wall, rather summed up his day.

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