Monday, 23 July, 2018

Ronaldo refuses to confirm retirement after Portugal exit

Jorge Sampaoli explains touchline exchange with Lionel Messi over Aguero sub Javier Mascherano Retires from International Play After World Cup Loss to France
Sergio Cook | 01 July, 2018, 10:41

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli sprung a surprise when he dropped striker Gonzalo Higuain and replaced him with midfielder Cristian Pavon for the blockbuster World Cup round of 16 clash against France on Saturday.

Biglia and Mascherano both announced that they were retiring from worldwide, the latter in tears.

Maybe they could look at some of their team-mates.

Unless you are Argentinian or Portuguese, there's no need to shed a tear for them because the spotlight will now deservedly be on the new wave of worldwide superstars - 19-year-old Frenchman Kylian Mbappe sizzled with his pace and brace in the 4-3 win over Argentina, 22-year-old Mexican Hirving Lozano tore Germany apart, and 24-year-old Englishman Harry Kane is living up to his billing as the world's best No. 9 with five goals so far in this tournament.

Playing in the Chinese Super League, you might still be able to boss a game, but in the World Cup, it was clear that Mascherano just did not have the legs anymore to dominate the most crucial area on the pitch.

This has been his best World Cup in terms of goals scored, as he leaves with four in total, including a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw with Spain in the group stage.

Matuidi will play deep on the left looking to cut the link between Messi and his midfield support. "I'm sure that the national team will remain as one of the best in the world".

So, what Messi needs to decide is if he will be OK with being, well, OK.

The first of those three final defeats came on the biggest stage of all and by the finest of margins in Brazil four years ago.

The same goes for Ronaldo as well, who will be 37-years-old when the World Cup bandwagon shifts to Qatar. Mainly because Portugal are not a country with a wonderful World Cup record, where, every time they step into the tournament, they are expected to win.

But Neville thinks the World Cup would be a lesser spectacle without Messi and Ronaldo.

Ronaldo will be almost 38 by the time the next World Cup comes around in Qatar in 2022.

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