SportsPulse: Fox Sports’ Alexi Lalas breaks down the most intriguing storylines entering the weekend and looks at how far Ronaldo, Messi and Mexico can go.
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It is a double-edged proposition. Fail to give Ronaldo special treatment on the field and he can destroy you single-handedly too.
Soccer doesn’t lend itself to a single superstar being able to take over an entire game, certainly not in the way that is possible — and common — in basketball. A soccer field is a vast piece of acreage and you are never going to see an entire attack flow through a single focal point such as on the hardwood, or with an American football quarterback. Then there is the simple math — 11 players, all with roles that are at least loosely defined.
Yet Ronaldo finds a way to have an effect on things even when the ball is not at his feet. The way he can turn on the jets, his physical power, his tactical thinking and technical proficiency, mean that his presence by its nature alters the formational structure of those he comes up against.
He can float around the field on a whim too, making him a nightmare to defend, by dropping deeper, drifting wider on either side, and staying in advanced position and trying to tease opponents into trying to catch him offside.
He believes he is the best so wholeheartedly that he doesn’t feel he can be stopped, which is why he will keep coming at you until the end, even on days when things are not going entirely his way.
Sometimes it is not easy to be on the same team as a figurehead who has arrogance as a defining character trait. Portugal doesn’t mind. For it is that arrogance that helped them to a European title in 2016, and gives them a shot at this World Cup.
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