The history of Portuguese soccer can be clearly divided into two eras: that of the legendary Eusebio Ferreira, who led Benfica to win its last European Cup (Champions League) and his National Team to third place in the World Cup; and that of Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, who will attend Qatar 2022 with the awareness that it could be his last chance to achieve what he has not been able to achieve previously in this tournament.
The Madeira-born player is undoubtedly the best Portuguese in terms of club achievements thanks to his 5 Champions League titles and the rest of the countless titles he has won. However, at the National Team level, he still has some unfinished business to settle, especially at the FIFA World Cup, in order to definitively dethrone Eusebio as the best player ever of his country. (Fair is to say that he has taken Portugal to conquer the 2016 European Cup)
In this way, Cristiano Ronaldo is relying on his goal-scoring power, on the inspiration that his example of always competing at the highest level can inspire, to infect his team and make Qatar 2022 an unforgettable surprise for him and for all of Portugal.
Cristiano Ronaldo and the FIFA World Cups, a long relationship
It is a fact that the history of the former Real Madrid star is strongly linked to that of Lionel Messi. Their rivalry has encouraged them to always fight to the maximum to try to be above the other. And that was not only experienced at its peak during their stays at Los Merengues and Barcelona, respectively, but also in the context of the FIFA World Cups.
Cristiano Ronaldo has played the same number of World Cups as Lionel Messi, so far. Although there is an age difference of two years between them, the current Manchester United striker participated for the first time in the great soccer tournament in Germany 2006, just like his Argentine rival. Since then, they have followed the same path: South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.
With four World Cups played, Ronaldo has a total of 17 appearances. As a record-gobbler, it is a fact that he would love to top this statistic, however, even if Portugal reaches the Qatar 2022 Final and he plays all the matches, he would not reach the leader of this record, Lothar Matthaus, with 25.
Although Cristiano is possibly the only player with the care and dedication to his physique that will allow him to play in the 2026 World Cup at the age of 39, it is not crazy to assume that Qatar 2022 could be his last participation in this great stage of world soccer, at least at an elite level.
Thus, Cristiano Ronaldo will at least try to surpass Eusebio Ferreira in the statistic of the Portuguese with the most goals scored in World Cups. The Black Panther scored 9 in the only edition in which he participated, England 1966, and CR7 scored 7. Curiously, his best goal-scoring record was in his most recent participation, in Russia 2018, with 4 goals.
In Qatar 2022, Cristiano hopes to maintain his unstoppable pace in World Cups, as only in the first edition in which he played, Germany 2006, he did not participate in 90 minutes of all the matches played by Portugal. On that occasion, the then 21-year-old Ronaldo played 60 minutes in his debut in this tournament (vs Angola), did not see action against Mexico (third match of the Group Stage) and started as a substitute against Netherlands, a match in which he came on in the final 34 minutes (Round of 16).
FIFA World Cup Germany 2006
Cristiano Ronaldo's first World Cup experience was perhaps the sweetest in terms of collective achievements. Portugal, coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari, finished fourth after losing to Germany in the third-place match. CR7 contributed only one goal in the six matches in which he played.
FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010
After wearing the number 17 in Germany, four years later, Ronaldo would appear with the number 7 tattooed on his back wherever he went. Likewise, since then, Portugal has not had another captain in the World Cup matches it has played. With just one goal and one assist, Cristiano had little influence in preventing his National Team from being eliminated in the Round of 16 by the future champion of this edition, Vicente del Bosque's Spain.
FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014
Undoubtedly, the darkest edition for CR7. Portugal shared the group with Germany, Ghana and the USMNT, and it did not go well at all, as the Mannschaft beat them 4-0, drew 2-2 with the Stars and Stripes and only defeated Ghana. Again, Ronaldo only contributed one goal and one assist.
FIFA World Cup Russia 2018
The best individual performance of the Portuguese star did not have enough echo at the collective level, as his National Team was once again eliminated in the Round of 16, this time at the hands of Uruguay. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Spain and then added another goal against Morocco to record his best goal-scoring record at the FIFA World Cups.