The Ballad Of Mesut And Cristiano

L'VIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 13: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Denmark and Portugal at Arena Lviv on June 13, 2012 in L'viv, Ukraine. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Özil miss each other. They might act like they don't need each other, but deep down, they know the truth.

Cristiano Ronaldo looked lonely while playing for Portugal on Wednesday. He didn't look like the normal Cristiano Ronaldo, a man who usually dazzles the crowd with every touch. As was the case during his previous game against Germany, he didn't play like he does at Real Madrid. He missed easy chances, he didn't see much of the ball, and he didn't appear to be enjoying himself. He had his friends Nani and Fábio Coentrão, but something was obviously missing.

What was missing is a skinny man with bulging eyes and greasy hair who wears the number 10.

Mesut writes a letter and sends it to Cristiano.
My vacation's ending. I'm coming home late.
The weather was fine and the ocean was great
And I can't wait to see you again.

Mesut Özil, meanwhile, is having a great time with Germany. He hasn't looked as fabulous as he usually does with Real Madrid, mainly because Lukas Podolski is no Cristiano Ronaldo, but he has nothing to complain about. The Germany camp probably feels like a nice vacation from Real Madrid. It's something different and he's enjoying himself.

Cristiano reads the letter and throws it away.
"No one here cares if you go or you stay.
I barely even noticed that you were away.
I'll see you or I won't, whatever."

Ronaldo would like to pretend that he doesn't need Özil. He's the star attraction. He's the greatest attacking player in the world, and Özil is just someone that he makes look like a star. He doesn't need Özil or anyone like him at either Portugal or Madrid. Or so he thinks.

Mesut sings a song as he sails through the sky.
The water looks bluer through his pretty eyes.
And everyone knows it whenever he flies,
And also when he comes down.

There's just something dazzling about the way Özil plays the game; when you're watching one of his teams, it's easy to just let your eyes drift to whatever he's doing. Watching his movements off the ball is easier than just following the ball around. There are more intelligent players, better passers and better athletes, but there's no one exactly like Özil. He's unique. That's what makes him wonderful to watch, and for anyone to play with.

Cristiano keeps his head up and walks through the street.
Every stranger and drifter he greets.
And shakes hands with every loner he meets
With a serious look on his face.

Ronaldo knows deep down exactly what Portugal is missing, and what he's missing at the international level. They need someone like Özil. When Ronaldo was a very young man, he had Manuel Rui Costa. As he was entering his adult years, he had Deco. He took them for granted, and now they're gone. Raul Meireles just isn't the same, but he puts on a face in interviews and acts like everything is OK.

Mesut arrives safely with suitcase in tow.
Carrying with him the good things we know.
A reason to live and a reason to grow.
To trust. To hope. To care.

Özil will continue to enjoy his time with Germany, whether the German side flames out of Euro 2012 in the quarterfinals or goes on to win the competition, but there's something more special than Germany waiting for him at Real Madrid. Cristiano and the others around him at Real Madrid are what really bring the best out of him. For all his brilliant performances in a Germany shirt, Özil's best work comes for his club. This vacation is fine, but he's headed home to something more important a month from now.

Cristiano sits alone on the hood of his car.
Without much regard to the moon or the stars.
Lazily killing the last of a jar
Of the strongest stuff you can drink.

Portugal is going to need a great performance and some luck to continue along in Euro 2012 and avoid heartbreak. If they lose to the Netherlands and go crashing out of the tournament, it's going to hurt. A lot. Ronaldo will be left wondering, along with the rest of the team, what could have been, and he'll do whatever he can do to quickly put it out of his mind as the club season approaches.

Mesut takes a taxi, a young man drives.
As soon as he sees him, hope fills his eyes.
But tears follow after, at the end of the ride,
'Cause he might never see him again.

Thomas Müller, Mario Gomez and Bastian Schweinsteiger will all be headed back to the same club team after the Euros, while Podolski heads to a quality Arsenal team, but none of them will be playing with a player like Özil for more than a week at a time until the World Cup. Come July, they will come to know a little bit of what Ronaldo's feeling right now, consciously or subconsciously. They'll be left wondering what it would be like to have Özil all the time.

Cristiano gets home, lucky to still be alive.
He screams o'er the sidewalk and into the drive.
The clock in the kitchen says 2:55,
And the clock in the kitchen is slow.

Portugal's Euro 2012 campaign will ultimately end in disappointment. They might do enough to finish second in their group, but they're not going to win the tournament. They simply aren't good enough. When they eventually flame out, Ronaldo will go back to Madrid with a terrible attitude. He won't be the first player to return to his club emotionally exhausted and less than the best version of himself after suffering international disappointment, and he certainly will not be the last.

Mesut has been waiting, patient and kind.
Just wanting a phone call or some kind of sign,
That the one that he cares for, who's out of his mind,
Will make it back safe to his arms.

Özil's Euro campaign might end differently. Germany might not win the tournament, but there's a very good chance that they do. If they do, he's going to go into Madrid camp in a much better mood than his teammates who aren't Sami Khedira. But he'll still be happy to see Cristiano, because those Germany wins took a combination of a lot of effort on his part and some luck to come off. Madrid wins just feel different. They're usually a bit more dominant, and Özil never has to be the best player on the pitch for Madrid. At club level, he needs Cristiano.

Club football is just plain better than international football. Because the talent is spread out among so many countries and because international teams can't just go purchase reinforcements, the best international teams aren't as good as the best club teams. A national team can play fairly average football and have Özil as its best player, but win international tournaments.

At club level, Özil can't be the star by himself. He needs Ronaldo as much as Ronaldo needs him.

Cristiano stumbles forward and leans in the door.
Weary head hung, eyes to the floor.
He says, "Love, I'm sorry", and Mesut says, "What for?
I'm yours and that's it, whatever.
I should not have been gone for so long.
I'm yours and that's it, forever."

Even if they don't know it consciously, or they're unwilling to admit it, Ronaldo and Özil are perfect compliments for each other at the highest level of football, and they'd be worse off without each other. Ronaldo might be able to get by at international level without Özil, and Özil has proven that he can certainly get by at international level without Ronaldo, but both are still looking a bit off at Euro 2012. They don't look like the best versions of themselves at all.

Ronaldo and Özil make up one of football's best arranged marriages, and it's one that should never be broken up. It's a shame that international football pulls them apart, because watching one without the other just isn't the same. This tournament has been fun, but it will be much more enjoyable to watch Ronaldo and Özil together again.

You're mine and that's it, forever.

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