Published: Sun, July 01, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Headline acts Messi and Ronaldo exit World Cup

Headline acts Messi and Ronaldo exit World Cup

The World Cup lost its headline acts on Saturday as the game's two biggest stars, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, readied to leave Russian Federation after their teams were eliminated in the Round of 16.

While Ronaldo will be bitterly disappointed to be heading home earlier than planned from Russian Federation, he at least has the consolation of having won his country's first ever European Championship, two years ago in France.

France global Mbappe stole the show with two goals and also won the opening penalty that Griezmann stuck away.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos was hopeful that the Real Madrid man will continue to represent his country for some time yet, with Portugal's next challenge to defend the European Championship title they won in France two years ago. "He tried. The team didn't win because Uruguay scored twice".

Ronaldo, now 33 and still playing some of the best football of his life, failed to provide the spark Portugal needed against Uruguay.

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. In this tournament, I will score him below average.

Prior to the World Cup, Ronaldo led Real Madrid to its third straight Champions League title, but he arrived in Russian Federation surrounded by distractions about his club future and a tax fraud accusation back in Madrid. He only spoke briefly with the media in Russian Federation.

Had there been better midfield options for Argentina - their crop of youngsters is extremely disappointing and one of the main reasons for their very bad performances this Fifa World Cup 2018 - Mascherano would not have been the first name on the teamsheet.

"It hurts not to be a champion", Messi said at the time. "We have great players, a fantastic group".

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