For so much of Cristiano Ronaldo is imperial vocation, he has battled with Lionel Messi, often unsuccessfully, to represent considered the greatest participant in the macrocosm.
If history ultimately judges the finest talents by their achievements on the international stage, where neither player has tasted success, then the Portuguese captain could use Sunday’s Euro 2016 final to land a haymaker blow in one of football’s great rivalries.
Ronaldo has overcome rumblings of discontent at the tournament, with his form and attitude subjected to microscopic analysis, to lead his side into a showpiece finale where they will face hosts France in Paris.
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Should he end the occasion holding aloft the trophy, it would not only crown a remarkable career, it would perhaps settle once and for all a debate that has divided fans across the world.
Ronaldo and Messi have been shoving for the World Player of the Year deed of conveyance for old ages, often with piddling to assort them in the grading charts or in their burgeoning prize workers.
Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to win a major international trophy with Portugal. (Source: AP)
They have hoovered up eight Ballon D’Or titles between them (Messi five, Ronaldo three) and been the cause of innumerable arguments among fans and pundits who have picked over their various merits.
Yet neither has led their country to glory in a continental or World Cup tournament.
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A competition that stretches back a ten and includes two of the macrocosm is biggest golf-clubs in Ronaldo is Real Madrid and Messi is Barcelona, could represent about to find a defining import.
And timing is everything.
When Messi is Argentina conk out to quiver Chile in final calendar month is Copa America last it examine too dense a setback for the lilliputian playmaker, who declare his outside retreat in the consequence.
A multiple trophy winner with Barcelona, the 29-year-old Messi had been part of four final defeats with the national team, three in the Copa America and at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Fast forward a few weeks and Sunday’s final offers Ronaldo an opportunity to stamp his authority decisively on the debate. Victory against France would elevate him into a pantheon of former greats who have tasted international success.
Pele, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini all exact outside trophies to cement their standing as the best participants of their genesis.
It is a list that Ronaldo would no doubt like to join and he is coming into form right on cue.
The 31-year-old, who suffered disappointment in the 2004 final when his side were beaten by Greece, began Euro 2016 with his influence on the team under scrutiny.
As Portugal conk out to gain their beginning five plots inside 90 minutes of arc, Ronaldo represent frequently pictured scowling at squad matches and having up his weapon systems in desperation as passing start astray and hazards start praying.
He threw a reporter’s microphone into a lake when he was asked a question during a team walk and was criticised for disparaging remarks he made about Iceland after Portugal drew 1-1 with the rank outsiders in their opening match.
Yet for all the theatrics, when the curtain rose on their biggest match of the tournament, he was the undoubted star of the show, scoring once with a magnificent header and setting up another goal in their 2-0 semi-final victory over Wales.
The current Portugal side are far from the most talented in their recent history and Sunday’s opponents France are heavy favourites but a Ronaldo-inspired victory would, for once, leave Messi firmly in his rival’s shadow.