Real Madrid’s search for the “Decima” (Spanish for tenth) may have cost Cristiano Ronaldo a chance to shine on the greatest stage there is in football. Real Madrid no longer lurks in the shadow of what many describe as the Greatest Club Team of all time, FC Barcelona. They have spent billions over the last eleven years searching desperately for their tenth Champions League title, which they won this past May. However, the cost may have been much more than just money. Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s golden child, could barely walk in this year’s World Cup tournament in Brazil as tendonitis kept him out of practice a few times.
Some may think he should not have been driven like a workhorse. Most players of the highest quality often take it easy in the months prior to the World Cup. The last thing any of them want is to get injured in the months prior to the initiation of the greatest sports tournament in the world. Regrettably, every four years in the months prior to the World Cup the injury list grows and many childhood dreams are shattered. This time around, topping the list was Radamel Falcao, who missed the tournament with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament which required surgery. FC Barcelona’s star goalie Victor Valdes was most certainly going to win a starting position and also missed the World Cup with the same injury as Falcao.
These possibilities seemed to never cross Real Madrid’s mind as they barreled their way in the relentless pursuit of arguably the most coveted title after the World Cup, the Champions League. They spent over $100 million to acquire Gareth Bale, a great player who was not going to play in the World Cup because his country Wales did not qualify for the tournament. They were aware that he was going to play his heart out until the last minute of the season because that is the only chance he would get to win a title.
Portugal’s chances to win the World Cup were not great even with a healthy Ronaldo, but he certainly had the chance to score many goals and take them much further than they did. Crashing out in the first round was not something Portugal expected but it should not be surprising as an additional two players from Madrid, Pepe and Coentrao, also featured for Portugal. Pepe got a red card in the first match and was not seen again and Coentrao left the first game on a stretcher having pulled a hamstring that left him out of the tournament.
Another team that did not do well in the World Cup was the defending Champion, Spain. The vast majority of Spain’s national team played in the Champions League final as this years tournament culminated with two Spanish teams playing for the cup. Athletico de Madrid and Real Madrid both had players that made up the Spanish team. When all is said and done, there were a few teams in this year’s World Cup who may have performed better, if not for Real Madrid’s unyielding push for European glory.
By Steve Salazar