Armchair Pundit

Ronaldo is Nike curse’s final victim

Alex Chick

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No doubt you have seen the flashy Nike advert on the telly during the World Cup. Entitled 'Write the future', it imagines the future in the event of success or failure for a number of players.

For example, Wayne Rooney gives the ball away in the last minute and is
pictured living in a trailer park, sporting a dirty vest and a bushy
beard. But Roon chases back and executes a perfect tackle. Cue footage
of a meeting with The Queen, and a hospital ward full of babies called

It's all good fun (although not a patch on the three-a-side tournament on a boat, reffed by Eric Cantona, from 2002), but to Nike's horror the stars of the advert have one-by-one seen their tournament cut short.

Ronaldinho started the rot by not even getting in the Brazilian squad, although he has probably enjoyed the tournament more than most, lazing on the beach hooked up to an IV caipirinha drip.

Didier Drogba broke his arm in a warm-up game, and struggled through a fruitless campaign for Ivory Coast who were knocked out at the group stage.

Franck Ribery was meant to be France's talisman, but became a leading protagonist in the incredible mutiny that consumed Les Bleus; appearing on the TV to claim he was not a trouble-maker one minute, refusing to train the next. He went home early.

Fabio Cannavaro
looked a shell of his former self, was humiliated by New Zealand and Slovakia and led his Italy side to a humiliating first-round exit.

Rooney wore a face like a smacked backside, played like an impostor and went out in the second round. Maybe he secretly fancied living in a caravan eating cold beans.

And now the last man standing, Cristiano Ronaldo, is out after his Portugal side lost to Spain - the third time in four matches they had failed to score.

Ronaldo's failure may not have been as spectacular as the others, but he clearly failed to live up to his billing, and his insistence on sitting on the turf gesticulating for a good 20 seconds every time he was denied a free-kick shows the staggering extent of his narcissism.

He ended the game an isolated figure, aiming baffled shrugs in Carlos Queiroz's direction as the coach sat on his hands while time ticked down.

I don't have a problem with the advert, really, but it is always nice to see overhyped stars backed by a multi-billion dollar corporation fall flat on their faces.

Although the commercial is light-hearted, it encourages players to think about the rewards of victory before they have achieved it.

And as England continues the search for reasons why our players underperform, it surely cannot help that they spend much of their time appearing in adverts where they are knighted.

If Roger Federer, spanked at table tennis by Rooney in the Nike
spot, fails to win Wimbledon, we'll
know there really is a curse.

- - -

Spain are just the third European side into the quarter-finals after Netherlands and Germany, and like the other two they got there by beating another European side - in fact they came through an Iberian derby.

From a distance, there does not appear to be much difference between the countries. They both have nice weather, beautiful beaches and disastrous economic crises.

But actually the countries do not get on that well.

Nobody knows this better than Portugal boss Queiroz, who in 2008 launched an amazing attack on the Spanish nation, following Real Madrid's prolonged attempts to sign Ronaldo.

Queiroz mentioned Olivenca, a town in disputed territory on the Portuguese-Spanish border, and Cristopher Columbus, claimed by both countries as one of their own.

"Cristiano Ronaldo will never be Spanish, as they will never take Olivenca again," Queiroz said.

"They already did the same with Christopher Columbus, and it now seems they want to naturalise Cristiano Ronaldo."

Incidentally, Columbus was actually born in Genoa, Italy. Clearly the Kevin Pietersen of exploration.

Real might have signed Ronaldo but they did not make him a naturalised Spaniard, which is just as well given Portugal's lack of quality in the side.

Portugal are secretly the most boring team at the World Cup. Three times we have been promised a 'cracker' as they took on Ivory Coast, Brazil and now Spain. It took 243 minutes until we saw a goal.

A 7-0 romp against North Korea can only disguise so much drudgery.

They were clueless going forward. Alan Hansen hit the nail on the head when he said: "When Portugal went one-nil down they had to consult a manual."

When you watch a game as a neutral, you are often never quite sure who you want to win until a goal goes in.

So it was to my mild surprise that I found myself punching the air when David Villa opened the scoring (actually, I didn't punch the air until it became clear the offside flag wasn't going up).

The World Cup needs its big teams at the business end, and man-for-man Spain are better even than Brazil and Argentina. If those three progress to the last four, we really will have a tournament.

- - -

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