Cristiano good times, Messi bad times
Cristiano led Portugal to victory with his goal (a towering header) and an assist for Nani. We will see him face up in Paris against the winner of today's clash between France and Germany. Bale gave his all to take Wales forward but to no avail. I watched the game and the pre-match noise about it being a duel betwen the two men was justified. They were the benchmark for their respective teams, they carried the most threat, the most likely goalscorers, the raison d'etre of each group. Portugal looked for the head of Cristiano. Wales aimed to get the ball to Bale to get things moving.
Portugal won because they had more. Wales, without the suspended Ramsey, relied on Bale, his movement across the entire field, his sensational left foot to send passses or strike at goal, his constant fight without faltering. He is the same great player at Madrid but here had unwavering character which he hasn't shown for his club although - and this is by no means trivial - during extra time in Milan, when suffering from cramp, he fought like a bear. Cristiano, by contrast, plays in spells, is economical with his runs, but it was he who decided the contest in just a couple of minutes. And with it he equals Platini as the top scorer in Euro finals. He is exultant.
This happy moment for Cristiano - whose countrymen and women yesterday took to the streets in celebration - contrasts with the current situation of Messi, who reneged on his national team and yesterday was sentenced to 21 months in prison, along with his father, for his oversight with the tax office. The legal concept in Spain is ‘ignorancia deliberada’, literally "deliberate ignorance". He didn't pay enough attention to his affairs and obtained a criminal advantage because of that attitude. His father and his advisors have caused this situation, which many close to Barcelona now see as a conspiracy. In reality it's the tax authorities looking for their money. There will be an appeal to the Supreme Court. He will not go to jail but he's having a bad time of things.
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