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16th Jun 2018

There’s a theory that Cristiano Ronaldo was to blame for Lionel Messi’s penalty miss

Advantage Ronaldo

Darragh Murphy

Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a much better World Cup group opener than his perennial rival, Lionel Messi.

While Ronaldo confidently slotted home his penalty and sailed a late free kick into the back of the net on Friday night, Messi saw his spot-kick saved and failed to beat the wall with his last-minute free kick from distance the next day.

Ronaldo netted a hat-trick against Spain, one of the top teams in the competition, to take the lead in the running for this year’s Ballon D’Or but, unfortunately for Messi, he was unable to muster his usual magic as Argentina had to settle for a draw with Iceland.

There’s no denying the fact that the successes of both Portugal and Argentina for the next month are entirely dependent on how well Ronaldo and Messi play.

And, so far, the advantage is clearly with the former.

The body language of Messi showed that he had let the frustration get the better of him against Iceland, whereas Ronaldo used his anger as a means to motivate him to seize the game and make it his own.

More than a handful of supporters think that Ronaldo’s stunning performance against Spain was in Messi’s head when he stepped forward to take his penalty, which made the job of Icelandic stopper Hannes Halldorsson very straightforward.