Ronaldo is a ‘machine’
Cristiano Ronaldo is a “machine” who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of greatness, according to former Manchester United team-mate Patrice Evra.
Ronaldo lit up the World Cup with a stunning hat-trick in Portugal’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain in their opening game in Russia in the game of the tournament.
The 33-year-old provided compelling proof of his enduring class, earning the European champions a point with a sublimely-taken free-kick in added time.
At an age when most players are winding down, Ronaldo is flourishing, defying his advancing years by becoming even more prolific as he gets older.
When he turned 30, Ronaldo had scored 52 goals in 118 games for Portugal. Since then, he has plundered 32 in 33 and is showing no signs of slowing down.
His record in the Champions League – a tournament he has won five times – is even more impressive, with 48 goals in 44 appearances since turning 30.
Former United team-mate Evra, who played alongside Ronaldo for three years, revealed the dedication that keeps the five-time Ballon d’Or winner at the top.
“With Rio Ferdinand, they were playing table tennis and Rio beat him,” said Evra, who is working at the World Cup as a pundit for ITV. “We were all screaming and Ronaldo was so upset.
“So he sent his cousin to buy a tennis table, he trained for two weeks at home, came back and beat Rio in front of everyone.
“That’s Ronaldo, that’s why I’m not surprised he wants to win another golden boot and why he wants to win the World Cup.
“This guy, he’s a machine, he doesn’t want to stop training.”
(Image: Getty Images Europe)
Ronaldo’s hat-trick made him only the fourth player to score in four World Cups, alongside Pele and Germany duo Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos hailed Ronaldo as the best player in the world and claimed there was no reason why he could not play in Qatar in 2022.
“More important than his physical form is his mental form,” said Santos. “He has an incredible mind and incredible physical endurance.
“He’s the best in the world and I hope in Qatar he will score again in another World Cup.”
Despite drawing their opening game, Portugal are expected to progress from Group B along with Spain, at the expense of Morocco and Iran.
With Russia or Uruguay their likely opponents in the next round, Portugal have every chance of progressing deep into the tournament.
Morocco will have a tough job nullifying the threat of Ronaldo if Portugal’s star man can maintain the level he showed against Spain.
But Morocco defender Manuel Da Costa said Herve Renard’s side cannot afford to focus too much on Ronaldo.
“We won’t focus only on Ronaldo,” said Da Costa.
“We know he’s excellent and surrounded by good players. We need be focused precise and have complete solidarity.”