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    Wednesday, 28 June 2017

    Polar bear predicts semi final match between the portugese and the chilean

    Kazan, russia -- you want to look beforehand to the primary confederations cup semifinal, to the champions of europe taking up the champions of south america (or, extra appropriately, given final yr's copa centenario, the champions of "the americas"). You reckon you are going to do it thru the prism of each group's biggest attacking star.

    And you then run right into a hassle.

    Because when cristiano ronaldo is on one facet of a parallel, except the guy on the alternative is named lionel messi, there's no symmetry, no feasible equivalence. Alexis sanchez is one of the best attackers within the international proper now; ronaldo is one of the greatest ever and a fixture within the goat debate.

    And but, if you observe matters a chunk greater carefully, there may be a common thread.

    Both are often stated surely via their first call, a distinction reserved for sporting royalty: lebron, serena and peyton do no longer want james, williams and manning.

    Both cristiano and alexis come from nations that -- have been this ncaa hoops -- might be defined as mid-majors: nice traditions, a few first-rate people, but often denied silverware by larger, higher-resourced nearby powers. And yet each have carried their respective nations to international success for the first time: alexis' chile won the copa the us in 2015 and, a 12 months later, cristiano triumphed with portugal at euro 2016.

    Each had been highly hyped from a totally young age, plucked faraway from their oceanfront hometowns and sent to the big time.

    Alexis grew up in tocopilla, a town within the some distance north of chile acknowledged for its saltpeter mines. At 17, italy's udinese paid his club cobreloa $2.5m; a massive fee at the time given his age. He become loaned out first to colo colo in the chilean capital santiago and later to argentine large river plate.

    Cristiano changed into born and raised in funchal, the capital of madeira, an island in the atlantic ocean, some six hundred miles faraway from the portuguese mainland. At 12, he moved to lisbon to enroll in sporting, wherein he remained until his pass to manchester united six years later.

    Precocious expertise leaving home at a young age to pursue a calling is a familiar trope. What moves you approximately those  if you watch vintage youtube clips is how their game has developed, in part responding to the passing of time -- alexis is 28, cristiano is four years older -- and in part responding to the how the sport has changed during the last decade.

    Young alexis was almost ethereal, skipping and floating across the pitch. He did little off the ball, in particular because he performed for a counter-attacking side however additionally because he became plenty happier with the ball at his feet than with out it.

    He'd roam around the opposition protection, seeking out space and calling for the ball and, when he were given it, he hardly ever gave it up till someone took it from him or till he had a chance to shoot. His critics said he'd be a complete participant best if and when he learned to be physically harder and found out to like the ball a little bit less.

    These days, he's a compact powerhouse, a urgent device who plays with aggression and depth. He seems as glad while he wins again the ball as he does while he rankings.


    Alexis sanchez, left, and cristiano ronaldo, right, met earlier than in el clasico. On wednesday, they go head-to-head again.
    Cristiano had the adonis-body lower back at 18 years of age just like he does now, besides it got here with a terrifyingly short first step that enabled him to lose defenders almost at will. He thrived in open spaces and his footwork broke angles like an allen iverson crossover.

    But there too, the critics discovered flaws. His man united teammate rio ferdinand said he become a "display pony" -- all fashion and little substance -- even as others lamented his loss of "quit product."

    (younger readers might not agree with me at this factor given that ronaldo is best the maximum prolific goalscorer in the history of europe's 5 largest leagues, but google searches do not lie.)

    Nowadays, at the same time as the diva habitual is alive and well, he saves it for breaks in play like purpose celebrations (usually his own): when the sport goes on, no motion is wasted, the whole thing has a reason, nothing is done for the viral highlight. And, as for the "stop product," properly, greater than six hundred career goals communicate for themselves.

    But possibly maximum hanging is how both guys have adapted themselves to their national facets, tailoring their game to what is maximum needed once they constitute their country.

    Alexis is prepared-made for the excessive-power, uncompromising style laid down first via jorge sampaoli and now through juan antonio pizzi. On a team full of charismatic leaders -- think gary medel and arturo vidal -- it is all approximately the collective and alexis is more than satisfied to slot in and be a cog in that huge purple system, as opposed to the hub of the wheel, as he frequently is with arsenal.

    With cristiano, it is something of the opposite. He stays, of path, the primary man of madrid, however the european champions can beat you such a lot of different methods that no longer the entirety is about him or has to undergo with him.

    With the countrywide facet, it's a bit exceptional. His contemporaries, including nani, ricardo quaresma and joao moutinho, defer to him, even as a proficient crop of kids -- bernardo silva, andre silva and raphael guerreiro among them -- appearance as much as him.

    If, at club stage, he's the largest of many stars in a supergroup, with portugal he is the big name and the others are unnamed lower back-up musicians, their names written in seven-factor type on the liner notes. It is the difference among roy orbison performing with the travelling wilburys and doing a show with a bunch of studio musicians.

    It's no longer a knock and it's no longer ego. Being the focus manner drawing all the stress and attention and taking over duty, something the more youthful portuguese gamers want. And that system served him and them very well at the euros.

    Both alexis and cristiano started their journeys in comparable places, each went thru similar challenges and both are leading their countrywide teams to new heights.

    Best they're doing it in distinctive approaches.

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