So, about that goal differential in Group G? Forget it. Unless Cote d’Ivoire manages to rip off your average, ho-hum ten goal game or something like it the Portuguese have seized it decisively with a 7-0 rout of the DPRK in the rain at Cape Town.
The key for Portugal’s offensive explosion wasn’t just the talent differential between the game but overmatched North Koreans and the Seleccao. For the first time this tournament, Portugal played free-flowing, attacking soccer, working the wings and funneling much of the finishing touches through Cristiano Ronaldo, who spent less time writhing on the ground and more time dishing to teammates, taking some thunderous shots on goal (including a net-rattler off the post) and finally scoring himself late in the match.
It’s simplistic, yes, but it’s not inaccurate to say that Portugal seems to function off Cristiano Ronaldo’s ever-changing moods. Tiago, Almeida, and Simao all played brilliantly, but this team’s limit is defined by Ronaldo’s degree of commitment. If he’s feeling it, this team can chain-detonate on hapless opponents throughout the tournament. If not, they’ll flop like their captain on one of his less flattering days of squandered brilliance.