On the 15th of June, Portugal begins their fight to win the World Cup in Russia. The first opponent is none other than their Iberian neighbour, Spain, in a clash that promises to get the hearts of all generations pounding. Of the Portuguese adversaries, which also include Iran and Morocco respectively, the Spaniards should be the hardest ones to beat in the first phase.
What does it matter! The hope of the Portuguese people rests on Cristiano Ronaldo. Elected the best player in the world five times over, the son of Madeira Island carries the Portuguese dream of carrying out his second revolution in football, two years after the first – the European Championship Title in France.
Here in Brazil, where the language of Camões is spoken in its own way, many Portuguese descendants are eagerly awaiting a good debut against Spain. They also hope that the poor performance in the World Cup played in Brazil in 2014 will not be repeated, when the Portuguese national team was eliminated in the first phase of the tournament (a 4-0 defeat to Germany, a 2-2 draw against the United States and a fruitless 2-1 win over Ghana).
At that time, the physical burnout of Cristiano Ronaldo, who led Real Madrid to the title of champion of the UEFA Champions League, was evident. Despite having good team-mates like Nani, Raul Meireles and João Moutinho in the national team, the dependence on the Real Madrid player’s talent, plagued by injuries that took their toll on his football in the competition, was the main factor leading to a melancholic and precocious farewell.
The task will not be easier this year, although Cristiano shows signs that he is in better shape for the tournament. But what Lusitanian expects an easy life in this world? I do not know even one, I admit. My Portuguese neighbours, on the other hand, do not hide their confidence in shirt no. 7 nor in their certainty of the difficult road to the final, scheduled for July 15 at the Lujniki Stadium in Moscow, also the opening stage of the World Cup.
The number that Cristiano Ronaldo wears on his shirt is the same as the number of games that will he will have ahead of him if he reaches the decisive moment of the World Cup. He will have to bring all his magnificent football to each of the games and he knows that he is able to lead his nation in another world cup. It remains to be seen whether he will be duly assisted by his comrades on the field.
As a Brazilian, I am rooting for my country, but I admit to wanting the Motherland to do well. Maybe a confrontation, as seen in the 1966 World Cup in England – which brings back good memories to the Portuguese thanks to Eusébio, who scored two goals in the 3-1 victory over Brazil – far from the monotonous 0-0 draw played in South Africa in 2010.
I hope Cristiano does not play alone and hence avoids me having to, once again, resort to the beautiful fado “Curse” of Alfredo Marceneiro and Armando Vieira Pint, eternalized in the voice of Amália Rodrigues. Inspiration for a chronicle about the fateful defeat to Germany four years ago.
“In the freezing solitude / That you give me heart / There is no life, no death: / It is lucidity, folly, / To read one’s destiny / Without being able to change its luck,” sang the fado singer. Fortunately, the Lusitanian luck has changed, it won its first continental title and goes in search of conquering the world.
Maybe that’s why I’d rather finish my long speech with a happier song to the people from whom I inherited this dose of lyricism. May the Portuguese play the “Grândola, Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso at twenty minutes past midnight on July 15, preparing for their second revolution in the soccer world. Then you’ll know that you’re having a party, and I’ll be happy, hoping that you keep a carnation for me.
Erick Alencar is a journalist, producer, editor and sports reporter in the state of Espírito Santo. He is part of the political editorial team of the newspaper A Tribuna. [email protected]