Portugal FIFA World Cup: Cristiano Ronaldo, one of football’s most iconic figures, is reportedly setting his sights on the 2026 FIFA World Cup, aiming to be the first player in history to play and score in six different editions of the tournament. This comes amidst a challenging Euro 2024 for the Portuguese star, where despite his efforts, he has yet to find the back of the net, a stark contrast to his usual prolific standards.

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Ronaldo has played a crucial role in helping Portugal reach the quarter-finals. However, his performance has been underwhelming compared to his previous tournaments. In a match against Turkey, Ronaldo had a golden opportunity to score but chose to lay on an assist for Bruno Fernandes, who was in a better position to score. This selfless act highlighted his team spirit, but also his struggle to find his scoring touch.

In the Round of 16 against Slovenia, Ronaldo was presented with another chance to score, this time from the penalty spot. However, his attempt was saved by Slovenia’s goalkeeper Jan Oblak, one of the best in the world. This miss was a significant blow for Ronaldo, who was visibly emotional, breaking down in tears on the pitch. It took a heroic effort from Portugal’s goalkeeper Diogo Costa in the ensuing penalty shootout to secure Portugal’s advancement to the next round.

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Gallas expressed his belief that Ronaldo, who would be 41 during the 2026 World Cup, has the fitness and motivation to compete at the highest level for a little longer. Ronaldo’s illustrious career is already filled with numerous records and accolades. He has become the first player to participate in six European Championships, though he has not scored in every edition. Ronaldo hopes to change this statistic in Portugal’s upcoming quarter-final match against France.

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This determination to score and lead his team to victory remains a driving force for Ronaldo, even as he faces criticism and scrutiny. Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary manager who signed Ronaldo for Manchester United in 2003, has shared his thoughts on Ronaldo’s future. Ferguson, who played a significant role in shaping Ronaldo’s career, believes that EURO 2024 might be the Portuguese forward’s last international tournament.

However, Ferguson also suggests that winning additional titles may no longer be a primary motivation for Ronaldo, who has already achieved so much in his career. Ferguson’s comments reflect a broader debate about Ronaldo’s future in football. While some believe that the 2026 World Cup is a realistic goal for Ronaldo, others, like Liverpool icon Didi Hamann, have been critical of his recent performances.

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The statistics from EURO 2024 add weight to this criticism: Ronaldo has taken 20 shots on goal without scoring, accumulating an expected goals (xG) of just 2.66. This starkly contrasts with his usual clinical finishing. As Portugal prepares to face France in the quarterfinals, the pressure is mounting on Ronaldo.

A victory could propel Portugal further in the tournament and potentially rejuvenate Ronaldo’s form and confidence. Conversely, a defeat might mark the end of Ronaldo’s international career, especially if he decides to heed the advice of figures like Ferguson and retire from international duty. Ronaldo’s journey in football has been nothing short of extraordinary.

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His record-breaking achievements, including becoming the all-time top scorer for both club and country, have cemented his legacy in the sport. Yet, the 2026 World Cup represents one final frontier for Ronaldo, a chance to achieve something no player has done before. The drive to play and score in six different World Cups is emblematic of Ronaldo’s career-long pursuit of excellence and records. His relentless work ethic, physical conditioning, and competitive spirit have allowed him to remain at the top of the game well into his late 30s.

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As the debate about Ronaldo’s future continues, it is clear that his legacy in football is already secure. Whether or not he plays in the 2026 World Cup, Ronaldo’s impact on the sport will be remembered for generations. His achievements have inspired countless young players and elevated the standards of excellence in football.

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In the immediate future, Ronaldo’s focus will be on the quarter-final clash against France at EURO 2024. This match presents an opportunity for him to silence his critics and prove that he still has what it takes to perform on the biggest stage. Regardless of the outcome, Ronaldo’s career has already been a remarkable journey, filled with unforgettable moments and historic achievements.

As fans and pundits speculate about Ronaldo’s future, one thing remains certain: Cristiano Ronaldo is not ready to fade into the background. His ambition to play in the 2026 World Cup reflects his enduring love for football and his desire to keep making history. Whether he achieves this goal or not, Ronaldo’s legacy as one of the greatest players of all time is secure, and his influence on the sport will be felt for years to come.

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