There is no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the soccer players of a generation. In fact, they’re so good they may be the greatest of any generation. However, what neither of these GOAT candidates has is a World Cup trophy to their names. At 37 and 35, respectively, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is likely the last chance these two have to bring home the Jules Rimet Trophy to Portugal or Argentina. The odds of Ronaldo’s Portugal winning are currently about double the odds of Argentina taking home the gold. And those odds likely just got a little worse as one of Ronaldo’s star teammates went down with an injury that will keep him out of the international tournament.
Diogo Jota injury will cause him to miss World Cup for Portugal
The World Cup being in November and December — smack dab in the middle of the European season — for the first time ever is adding an extra degree to the proceedings. The major leagues in England, Germany, Italy, Spain, and France will play games right up until the week broke the 2022 World Cup begins in Qatar.
This opens up the possibility for domestic league injuries having a major effect on international teams, and that’s what happened to Portugal in the Premier League Liverpool vs. Manchester City match on Sunday.
Late in that match, 25-year-old Liverpool and Portugal forward Diogo Jota went down and had to be stretchered off the field.
On Tuesday, Jota’s club manager, Jürgen Klopp, announced, “Really not good news, yes he will miss the World Cup,” Klopp said, per ESPN.
“Pretty serious injury in the calf muscle, and now the process starts. That’s it pretty much. All the rest will now follow in the next few days. Very sad news for the boy, for us as well, and for Portugal,” Klopp continued. “I don’t want to put a time on it [his return]. It will be a long time.”
While losing a talent like Jota is a significant blow for any team, Liverpool is a deep (and deep-pocketed) Premier League team that has the depth to deal with his loss and can address it if necessary in the January transfer window.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal aren’t so lucky.
How Diogo Jota’s injury will hurt Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal
Portugal comes into the 2022 World Cup as the No. 9-ranked team in the world, according to FIFA’s world rankings. The Iberian Peninsula squad also got a relatively favorable draw into the tournament.
The Portuguese team will be in Group H with Uruguay, South Korea, and Ghana, the 14th, 28th, and 61st-ranked teams, respectively.
Diogo Jota was going to be a pivotal piece to Portugal’s run to win Cristiano Ronaldo his World Cup trophy. The young forward has 10 goals in his last 29 appearances for his home country. Jota has been splitting time on the left side of a three-man front line with 23-year-old AC Milan winger (and Chelsea transfer target) Rafael Leão during Portugal’s UEFA Nations League run.
Jota’s absence puts more pressure on the young and relatively in experience Leão, as well as Ronaldo and the wingers on the other side like João Félix and Bernardo Silva.
Portugal is lucky in that forward is the team’s deepest position group. But losing a key player like Jota makes that group a little thinner, a little younger, and a little less talented, which could put the final nail in Cristiano Ronaldo’s last hope to become a World Cup winner.
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