Mails on De Gea ‘cracks’ and the wonderful Ronaldo

Date published: Saturday 16th June 2018 9:54

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Dave does not always save
After watching last night’s brilliant match between Ronaldo and Spain there is an elephant in the room I must address.

David De Gea.

I’m starting to see cracks in his fine reputation. I can see why Real Madrid have shifted attention to Allison. He looks good for United because they face so many shots.

I’ll explain why before people think I’m being too critical.

The first goal cannot be blamed on him at all so I’ll skip that one.

The second goal was just comical, remember Dave used to save with his feet? People out there saying it shows he’s human clearly have a short memory (or your a United supporter) for Spain/United it’s becoming more of a regular thing.

Which brings me to the final goal. I’ll say right away that it is a brilliant free-kick, technique, skill, power, under a high pressure situation. Wow. Love Ronaldo and hate him at the same time.

Now…the ball doesn’t end up in the top corner, De Gea stands with both feet planted to the ground. BOTH FEET!
He actually set the wall up very well, meaning Ronaldo could only put that around the wall or slightly over it into that corner of the net. How on earth is De Gea not even moving in that direction?

I’m not saying he should save it but I can’t help but imagine that Neuer or even Lloris would of gotten a hand too that.
JoeKen (Belfast)


Just Ronaldo
Ronaldo scores his 51st career hat-trick, 153 goals just from hat-tricks. For comparison his Real Madrid strike partner Karim Benzema has scored 154 goals total in his career (and is a very good player).

Simon Cochrane (still referred to Il Fenomeno as ‘the real Ronaldo’ when my wife asked who he was though)


…I want to dislike Ronaldo, but I’m struggling. What a player. Can he even comprehend nerves?
Aidan, Lfc (bet he’s rubbish chat over a pint though)


…I’m not Portuguese, I’m not a United fan who worships the man because he came of age at the club I support, I’m not a Real Madrid fan, I have actually put a pretty sum of money on Spain to win the bloody thing. But none of that mattered when he scored that equaliser.

I instinctively stood up and cheered like it meant the world to me because he makes football the glorious game that it is.
Damo, Dublin


…Ronaldo is phenomenal.

I know this isn’t news to most, but like many I spent years despising him. Firstly as a Liverpool fan, but ultimately for his pantomime drama in every game. Arms flailing for every slight contact, every missed opportunity, every moment he knew the camera was on him. Kissing the ball before a penalty? Christ.

I have always been able to enjoy football on its own merit, almost regardless of who was playing. But, despite his obvious talent, I couldn’t get past that arrogance and ego and entitlement. It was enraging, and it stuck in the craw when placed against the majority of players I have admired over the years. But something changed over time. There were a few influences.

A couple of articles I read discussed how the media holds Ronaldo to a different standard than all other footballers, and indeed there is double standard we hold against top British players – expecting them to be the best of the best but never, ever act like it. Ego is not a virtue, not to be admired, we’re told. But for Ronaldo, that ego is not a vice, but a driving force necessary in attaining near impossible levels of footballing ability and consistency.

Soon after, I was watching that interview between Ronaldo and Jonathon Ross. I could see the ego in full display. I saw him looking sleazily at his own topless celebratory photo, humblebragging about his own looks, his own talent. But amidst all of that there was a very clear picture of a kid who grew up with nothing and earned everything through hard graft. It was impossible to ignore. That is football’s dream at its purest.

It was around then I decided to just try enjoy his football on its own merit.

Then came the Euros. Ronaldo dragging a haphazard Portuguese squad through to the final and beyond, limping to accept the trophy, before shaking hands in tearful gratitude with every member of the coaching staff and squad. (Meanwhile, Messi is threatening to quit International football because Argentina tanked in the Copa América final, a game in which he fired a penalty over the bar).

Flash-forward to today and the headlines tomorrow will speak for themselves. And damn it tonight, for the first time in my life, I was hoping Ronaldo would score a bloody free kick. Even then, the manner of it was astounding. Portugal’s only conceivable chance to equalise, to go and bend it up, over and around the two tallest men on the pitch? Wow. Unstoppable.

I have taken flak for praising him – most notably at the fuzzy end of a boozy match weekend in Liverpool – but there comes a point when awe has to transcend personal bias. As a football fan, I can’t help but enjoy his enigma. As a Liverpool fan, I hope we draw Madrid in the 18/19 Champions League to wipe that stupid grin off his face. As an Ireland fan, I’m used to disappointment.
ShaneO’ (LFC, Ireland)


Peter G loved it
Not only was that one of the all-time greatest World Cup matches, but it had more b*stardry, petulance, and arrogance per square foot than any game in the whole history of football. Diego Costa elbowing Pepe in the face and going on to score a brilliant goal should be in everyone’s top ten WC moments. Oh, and as Ronaldo was lining up the free-kick, just wondering how many people across the globe were thinking “He’s going to do it, isn’t he?”

Other unforgettables: 1) Diego Costa apparently being booked just for being Diego Costa; 2) Ronaldo losing the ball in his own half and then ostentatiously refusing to close down the opponents – and Spain scoring on the ensuing sequence; 3) Nacho actually biting the hand of Sergio Ramos during his goal celebration.

God, football is great.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA (first 3:3 since Senegal-Uruguay in 2002)


And he’s not the only one
I expect your inbox tonight will be full of people questioning DeGea’s reliability…or going into the umpteenth “Messi vs. Ronaldo, who’s better?” boring debate… or chastising Diego Costa for that sneaky elbow to Pepe in his first goal…

…but really, can we just focus on what a fantastic game that was?

Rarely do big games and big stars deliver like this, at least not at tournament level. I can’t remember any group stage game from any tournament being this good. Spain and Portugal were both genuinely great.

Tonight was just incredibly exciting: lots of twists and turns, lots of goals, superb individual moments. More please.
Peter Van


…Well, maybe not the greatest WC match I ever saw, but at least the greatest group stage match.

I’m talking, er, about Spain-Portugal. Not Iran-Morocco. Certainly not Egypt-Uruguay. I happen to have watched all three, but kudos to the schedulers for giving the top spot to the one actual good game.

Wales missing out meant I was not terribly excited about Russia 2018, but a match like this rekindled my interest. Spain don’t need a manager apparently and Portugal just proved that Euro win was no fluke.

I have a feeling though that Iran will somehow Carlos Queiroz their way through two scoreless draws and that either Portugal or Spain will not make it through.


Excited about 2026 already
Micki wrote in yesterday with a very reasonable list of concerns about the 2026 World Cup and number of qualification places. While he made lots of good points, I’m going to look at the positives and show why 2026 is something we should really be looking forward to.

In terms of number of teams, FIFA is going for a mix of even distribution, relative to number of teams in that federation and taking quality into account. Africa, North & Central America and Asia will each have 17% of their members qualify. South America gets a whopping 60% (but they’re all pretty good), Oceania 9% and despite only having three more teams, Europe gets a healthy 29%. That maybe explains why Europe aren’t involved in the playoff (although it does seem a bit silly).

Micki is right that UEFA are benefitting less than anyone from the expansion. However, I’d ask the question, do we really want that many more European teams? Let’s look at the listed teams missing out on rankings: Turkey, Slovakia, Scotland, Romania, Republic of Ireland, Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Czech Republic, Norway and Northern Ireland. Do any of those teams excite anyone? The last Euros threw the door open to these teams and I don’t remember any of them lighting the place up with scintillating football.

When it comes to the World Cup, I don’t get excited by Serbia or Sweden, I get excited by Peru or Senegal. Not because I’m some sort of footballing hipster, but because we see the European teams all the time. We see them in the Euros and we see them in the qualifying for major tournaments. Seeing something different is exciting.

I have little desire to see more European teams at the World Cup (apart from Scotland) but some of the other options. Jamaica? Yes please. Congo? Bring it on? China v New Zealand? I’ll have some of that.

Here’s the real beauty though, because even though some of these teams aren’t that good, the format will make it much more thrilling. Groups of 3 have their issues, but they will definitely be exciting. Every group will only have 3 games, but that means after the 1st game, the games that follow will potentially be the last game of the tournament for someone. So after the first 16 games of the tournament, teams will be on the verge of elimination. Must win games = more exciting football.

Then comes the best bet. A last 32. That means THIRTY ONE knockout games. That’s going to be incredible! Paraguay v Burkina Faso might not sound enthralling, but make it a knockout game and now we’re talking! We’ll still have 32 similar quality teams at the World Cup it’s just now, the whole thing will be knockout. We’ve just a couple of preliminary rounds to enjoy before it starts.
Mike, LFC, Dubai

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