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World Cup “Last Dance” and “Melo era” come to an end

  Half a month before the opening of the World Cup, the first batch of Argentine fans have gathered on the streets of Doha, the capital of Qatar. They come from all over the world and can’t wait to put on their blue and white jerseys and cheer for their favorite team. A giant poster of Lionel Messi is also hung on the exterior wall of a high-rise in Doha: Messi wearing the number 10 jersey, pointing to the sky – this is his signature gesture after scoring a goal.
  Two months ago, the 35-year-old Messi admitted in an interview with ESPN at home that this would be his last World Cup, saying “I confirm” twice. Facing the upcoming game, he looked forward to that moment, but worried about “the possibility of something bad.” Messi has played in four World Cups, but has never won the Hercules Cup. He holds seven Golden Globes and almost all the honors a star can get. The World Cup championship is the last piece of the puzzle.
  Another football superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, may also usher in his “last dance” in the World Cup. He is 37 years old. At the 2022 annual awards ceremony held by the Portuguese Football Association in September, he stated that he “want to participate in this year’s World Cup and the 2024 European Cup.” Four years later, the World Cup is not in the plan.
  Messi and Ronaldo are known as the greatest players in contemporary football, and their “last dance” is regarded as “the end of an era”. Those who bid farewell to the World Cup with the two also included Luka Modric, Luis Suarez, Thiago Silva, Thomas Muller and many other players born in the 1980s.
  In the eyes of industry insiders, the two talented players met the heyday of Spanish football in their growth stage. Yu Yuan, a senior domestic football commentator, believes that the careers of the two have perfectly run through the most glorious period of TV media, the enlightenment period of the Internet, and the enlightenment and development period of social media. Their success is also the result of commercialization penetrating every corner of modern football. miniature.
last world cup

  On November 6, two weeks before the start of the World Cup, Messi missed the Paris Saint-Germain league due to Achilles tendon inflammation, which made the Argentine sweat for him. However, the reporters from Argentina and the team quickly reassured the fans, “I don’t want to take risks when I am absent.” Messi’s injury is not serious.
  On the evening of November 11, Beijing time, the Argentine team announced the 26-man roster for the World Cup. Messi was on the list. Di Maria, who had been sidelined for more than 20 days due to a hamstring injury, also returned to the team smoothly. But the bad news is that the Argentine midfielder Lo Celso did not appear on the list.
  In addition to the uncertainty caused by injuries, facing the World Cup, Messi has always been shrouded in controversy: whether he really has the executive ability of a captain and the management ability of the locker room, and then lead the team to victory. In the 2010 World Cup, the 23-year-old Messi became the youngest captain in the history of the Argentine national team, but the team he led failed to win the championship in three consecutive World Cups and four Copa Americas. Some observers even bluntly said that Messi lacks the “kingdom” like Maradona.
  Before the 2021 Copa America final, the video of the Argentine locker room revealed Messi’s changes. Messi has always been gentle and shy. But before the game, he encouraged his teammates word by word with a firm tone: “For 45 days, we traveled around, quarantined and ate in hotels, and couldn’t see our family for 45 days… What is this all for? It’s for this moment… Now we are very close to this goal. Do you know what is the most important thing? That is to rely on yourself…” In the end, Messi used the championship to complete a counterattack and self-salvation.
  This scene is quite similar to the scene in the locker room before the 1986 World Cup Argentina final. Maradona took off his jersey and mobilized his teammates’ desire for victory with shouts of “Argentina”.
  In early September this year, Messi said in an interview with ESPN that although there are more young players in this Argentine national team, “our team is now very strong and well-trained, very similar to the peak team in 2014.” Before the World Cup, Messi had recovered his best form at the club. As of the end of October, he had directly participated in scoring 29 goals in club and national team competitions this season.
  In the last World Cup between the two, the “Melo Controversy” continued-who can finally win the cup and realize their dream has become the biggest attraction of this year’s World Cup. Zhang Fanjing, president of the Chinese Manchester United Fan Association, “There is a saying among fans all over the world: whoever wins the World Cup is the truly undisputed champion.”
  In contrast, C Luo’s condition has raised concerns. In the 2022/23 Premier League season, Ronaldo failed to score a goal in 7 consecutive rounds. For a while, doubts about “C Ronaldo is old” arose everywhere. “Although it can be seen that his state is slowly declining before, he does not feel like a cliff-like decline, but this season is very obvious. Although his body looks fine, once he runs, he can sprint at first, but After a few steps, I couldn’t keep up or my movements were out of shape.” Zhang Fanjing .
  In the Premier League game on October 10, Ronaldo finally broke the scoring drought. This is also his 700th club goal in his career, setting a record. However, Ronaldo’s dominance over the game seems to be declining. He has failed to start or even appear in the club many times. What attracted even more attention was that in the early morning of October 20, Beijing time, two minutes before the end of Manchester United’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sitting on the bench, looked dignified, left the field early without authorization, and was severely punished by suspension and training. . According to statistics, as of the end of October, Ronaldo’s shot conversion rate in the Premier League this season was 5%, which was 16% last season.
  Regarding his situation at the club, on the evening of November 13th, in an exclusive interview with the famous British mouth Piers Morgan, Ronaldo said bluntly that someone at Manchester United was forcing him to leave the club, “Not just the coach, but also two or three other people. It’s time to betray.” He doesn’t think he has the respect of coach Ten Hag, nor will he respect such a coach. He even directly criticized the lack of progress for the club after the retirement of former manager Alex Ferguson in 2013.
  On November 10, local time, the 26-man roster of the Portuguese team for the World Cup in Qatar was announced, and Ronaldo’s status has attracted much attention. Coach Fernando Santos responded, “Don’t worry about him”, Ronaldo has played in four national team games recently, and he is no longer the same as he was a month ago. Ronaldo and everyone have a sense of hunger, want to Win the world championship.
  In 2006, C Ronaldo and Messi, also known as “Little Ronaldinho”, appeared on the World Cup stage for the first time as teenagers. The Portuguese team was eliminated by the French team in the semifinals. The 21-year-old C Ronaldo burst into tears. The best result in the World Cup. In 2016, Ronaldo led Portugal to win the first European Cup trophy in the history of the country.
  But their prime is over. Moreover, the Qatar World Cup is the first event held in November among the 22 World Cups. For this reason, the club league started earlier, which also compressed the players’ summer break. Teams participating in the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and Europa League have to complete the group stage in early November, and the players have experienced at least two months of double matches a week.

  In previous World Cups, players had an average of 31 days to prepare for the World Cup or recover from injuries, according to the Federation of International Professional Footballers (FIFPro). But now, for some teams, that time is only a week away.
  This brings regret to many veterans. Since October, the number of players absent due to injuries has increased. In addition to Argentina’s Lo Celso, more than a dozen players including German veteran Marco Reus and French midfielder Paul Pogba will miss the World Cup.
Unprecedented domination of football for more than ten years

  ”It is now said that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is the ‘twilight of the gods’, but I will remember that the 2006 World Cup in Germany was the last ‘twilight of the gods’, and it was a collective farewell for the stars born in the 60s and 70s.” Yu Yuan told of the World Cup. The 26-year-old Ronaldinho (Ronaldinho) would never have imagined that four years later, he would be out of the national team squad due to “unsatisfactory physical fitness and enthusiasm”. The 31-year-old Beckham missed his chance in 2010 due to injury , 2006 had no choice but to become his last World Cup.
  The previous generation of superstars withdrew one after another, leaving the stage to Messi and Ronaldo. From the beginning of the 2006/07 season, Ronaldo, who was originally thin, became strong and his style of play became more mature. “In the early years, he was more to show that he was very good and his skills were very strong, but he really had little effect on the game. Great. After the 2006/07 season, he has a stronger sense of teamwork and responsibility, and can really play the role of a savior.” Zhang Fanjing said.

On August 29, 2019, Monaco, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messiattended the 2019 UEFA Awards Ceremony.

  Under the leadership of coach Ferguson, Ronaldo helped Manchester United achieve three consecutive Premier League titles, and in 2008 won the Champions League, which represents the highest honor in European club football. The 2007/08 season became Ronaldo’s most glorious stage at Manchester United. He scored a total of 42 goals in various competitions and won the Golden Globe, World Footballer and European Golden Boot. In 2009, Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for a then world-record-breaking £80 million and won the Champions League four times in five years from 2014 to 2018.
  2008 was also an extremely critical year in Messi’s career. After Ronaldinho left the team, the new coach Guardiola promoted Messi as the core of the team, and paid attention to Iniesta, Pique, Harvey, Puyol and other players trained by Barcelona’s youth training to form Barcelona’s third The Dream Team is called the “Dream Three Dynasties”. At that time, players in all positions were at their peak. The Barcelona striker with Messi as the core connected smoothly with the midfielder, had a strong breakthrough ability and superb shooting skills.
  In 2008, Barcelona won six championships, three consecutive La Liga titles for three consecutive years, and two Champions League titles at the same time. Since 2013, Barcelona has introduced Neymar, Suarez, and Messi to form the “MSN” combination, and Barcelona ushered in the “Dream Four Dynasties”. At that time, “MSN” scored 2.4 goals, sent 1.2 assists, and created 6.2 opportunities every 90 minutes, helping Barcelona win the La Liga, King’s Cup and Champions League triple crown in the 2014/15 season.
  For 10 years after 2008, Messi and Ronaldo monopolized the highest honor of world football players. Messi won 7 Golden Globe Awards, 6 European Golden Boot Awards, and 2 World Footballer of the Year. Ronaldo won 5 Golden Globe Awards, 4 Golden Boot Awards and 3 World Footballer of the Year awards. In 2018, Croatian midfielder Luka Modric, who played for Real Madrid, won the Ballon d’Or, temporarily breaking the dominance of the two. But then the Ballon d’Or in 2019 and 2021 was won by Messi again.
  In the 66-year selection history of the Ballon d’Or, Messi and Ronaldo are the two stars with the most awards. In 2019, Ma Dexing, the deputy editor-in-chief of “Sports Weekly”, once said with emotion that for so many years, it is indeed unprecedented for someone like Messi and Ronaldo to lead the world football for such a long time.
  Before the two, the football king Maradona started taking drugs at the age of 24, the “alien” Ronaldo was out of shape due to alcoholism, Ronaldinho was involved in pornographic news, and football stars like Van Basten were injured due to injuries Many end their careers early. Melo continued their dominance with extreme self-discipline and professionalism, as well as fewer injuries. Spanish football reporter Gilliam Balague once wrote in “C Ronaldo Biography”: 18-year-old Ronaldo just entered Manchester United, he took the initiative to find the team’s strength training coach, saying that “I want to be the strongest player in the world.” “. Ronaldo is extremely strict with his diet, counts calories accurately, and never drinks alcohol. He follows a strict schedule, always arrives at training earlier than others, carefully analyzes the performance of the game after the game, and persists day after day.
  Gilliam Balague analyzed that due to the lack of fatherly love, Ronaldo has a strong desire to win. He hopes to be noticed and recognized and become the number one. Ronaldo, who is 1.85 meters tall, is confident and flamboyant, with amazing speed and fearlessness. He is good at long-distance raids and short-distance breakthroughs, and is also proficient in various dribbling techniques.
  From personality to style of play, Messi and Ronaldo are very different. Messi is only 1.69 meters tall, but he is good at running at high speed and dribbling smoothly. “When he passes the ball in a small space, the ball follows him, just like electrons attached to atoms.” Foreign media once commented. On the court, Messi is passionate and decisive, but also shy and humble. He rarely celebrates by waving his jersey, let alone dancing or making exaggerated movements towards the fan area. He can adapt to the coach’s changes to his position more quickly, and he also has strict control over his body.
  Over the past ten years, Messi and Ronaldo have profoundly influenced the growth of a generation of fans. “There are so many fans of Ronaldo and Messi in China because their games almost run through the stage when the fans born in the 70s first entered the workplace, the fans born in the 80s throughout their youth, and the fans born in the 90s in their childhood.” Yu Yuan commented.
  People are sad about the end of the Melo era, but also because the two led an era of goals. Barcelona, ​​where Messi played, and Real Madrid, where Ronaldo played, are teams that tend to attack more. As strikers, they scored far more goals than players in the past. As of the beginning of November this year, according to statistics from the British sports portal GOAL, Ronaldo has played 1,139 times and scored 818 goals; while Messi has participated in 993 games and scored 785 goals, which has raised the competitive level of modern football to an unprecedented level. .

How “Peerless Twins” Achieved

  On May 1, 2005, Barcelona’s game against Albacete Club was drawing to a close. Messi, who came off the bench, scored his first goal for the Barcelona first team with a volley from the edge of the penalty area. The next scene is recorded in football history: Ronaldinho ran over and bent his back, and the young Argentine teenager jumped on the Brazilian’s back to celebrate the moment of victory together.

  This jump is endowed with a certain sense of inheritance: Ronaldinho is at the peak and won the World Footballer of the Year in 2004. “Messi grew up on the shoulders of Barcelona, ​​a century-old club, and on the back of Ronaldinho, a superstar.” Yu Yuan told.
  At the turn of the century, the commercialization of modern football has entered a new stage, and football has undergone unprecedented changes.
  At the beginning of the 21st century, real estate businessman Florentino served as the chairman of Real Madrid, opening the “golden dollar” era of La Liga. He bought seven football superstars including Figo, Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham, and Owen with a lot of money, creating a luxurious lineup of “Galaxy Battleship” generation. This also stimulated the rival Barcelona, ​​who introduced Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Deco and other heavyweight players. The Spanish media “Aspen” once counted that in the 11 seasons from 2000 to 2011, Real Madrid introduced a total of 61 players, including 49 foreign players, costing as much as 1.098 billion euros. Barcelona bought 59 people and 48 foreign aid at a cost of 757.3 million euros.
  Since then, La Liga has repeatedly topped the UEFA club standings and has become the focus of world football. In the 22 seasons since 2000, Real Madrid and Barcelona have won the Champions League 11 times. During the “Dream Three Dynasties” period, most of Barcelona’s main players were native Spanish players. Benefiting from Barcelona’s no-forward tactical system, that is, not relying too much on forwards, but using more running and passing between players to tear apart the opponent’s defense, the Spanish national team ushered in a “golden age” and won the 2008 European Cup, The 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Cup three consecutive championships.
  The previous matches between Barcelona and Real Madrid are known as the “Spanish national derby”, which is one of the top, most concerned and most influential football games in the world. Football is a collective sport. In the past, most of the focus battles were contests between two teams. In the nearly 10 years since Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid in 2009, under the joint efforts of clubs, fans, sponsors and the media, The national derby was turned into a “battle” between Messi and Ronaldo. The attention of fans has gradually evolved from the century-old grievances between the two giants to a statistical contest of how many goals the two can score in this game.
  Melo’s influence was further amplified. Taking the Spanish national derby in the 2016/17 season as an example, the number of spectators was 30,000 higher than the league average, and then broadcast globally, the number of viewers often reached hundreds of millions.
  Another change brought about by commercialization is the change in the income structure of football clubs. Before the 1990s, the club mainly relied on tickets and sponsorship revenue. In 1992, the Premier League took the lead in selling the five-year league broadcast rights to Sky Sports at a high price of 300.5 million pounds, which opened the era of broadcast rights marketing, and various leagues followed suit. In the past 30 years, broadcast fees have risen. By 2021, the latest round of Premier League copyrights in the United States will be sold. The six-year broadcast agreement reached by NBC and the Premier League has risen to 2 billion pounds. In addition to TV broadcasting rights, clubs can also obtain more income through merchandise sales, sports naming rights, player transfers, etc., to cultivate youth training and recruit players.
  The development of broadcasting technology has made the enjoyment of the game an important indicator, and the techniques and tactics have also been adjusted accordingly. European teams pay more attention to cooperation, while South American teams highlight individual skills. Since the beginning of the new century, major clubs have paid more and more attention to increasing collective ball possession time.
  ”Football skills and tactics change about once every ten years. The mid-1990s was a critical period for football reform. We began to explore systematic play, that is, the three lines of forward, center and defender have different divisions of labor, breaking the past. The shackles of the position were basically finalized around 2005. Ronaldo and Messi just caught up with the results of this wave of technical and tactical reforms, and they have more flexible tactics to serve them, and they have enjoyed this result for most of their careers.” Yu Yuan explained.
  Guardiola has developed many tactics around Messi during his 4 years as Barcelona coach. Whether in the late Manchester United or Real Madrid, Ronaldo is also the core of the team’s tactics. This tests the technical and psychological qualities of star players, and also promotes their advantages to be further magnified.
  ”After the development in the 1990s, around 2005, several major domestic portals and forums reached their peak. At this time, Messi and Ronaldo had just debuted. In 2010, domestic Weibo began to rise. After 2014, mobile The rapid development of the Internet coincides with the peak of Melo’s career.” Yu Yuan remembers that in addition to TV, all performances of Messi and Ronaldo’s growth will be followed up and magnified on the Internet and social media, gradually becoming Two characters that fans can’t avoid at all.
  In 2018, according to media statistics, Ronaldo had more than 30 commercial endorsements, and Messi had more than 20 endorsements. Ronaldo has more than 450 million followers on Instagram. According to foreign media reports, his average advertising value per post is more than 3 million pounds, and Messi’s value per advertising post is 2 million pounds.
  Since 2014, Messi and Ronaldo have monopolized the top two in the “Forbes” annual world football player rankings. The highest income of the two will reach US$127 million and US$125 million in 2019 and 2021, respectively. Among them, the two earned more than 55 million US dollars off the football field, and the rest came from playing football.
  Commercialization has promoted the rise of the star’s worth. Ronaldo even publicly stated that, to some extent, its commercial value has stimulated his own hard training, “The longer I stay at the world’s top level, the better my future will be, because I can get more training.” Commercial contracts, and many more things.”
Who is the next generation champion?

  Now, the era of post-80s stars is coming to an end, who can succeed Melo and become the next generation of superstars?
  In 2021, Robert Lewandowski, born in 1988, won the World Footballer. This year, Karim Benzema snatched the Golden Globe from Melo, but the two are still born in the 1980s. Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are two of the most sought after young players in football right now.
  The French player Mbappé, born in 1998, made his mark in the last World Cup in Russia, won the Best Young Player Award, and won the Hercules Cup with the French team. Former England defender Rio Ferdinand has bluntly said Messi and Ronaldo are “handing over their crowns” because of Mbappe.
  The alternation of the old and new eras will be staged ahead of schedule for the UEFA Champions League in March 2021. In the second round of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League 1/8 finals, Barcelona drew 1:1 with Paris Saint-Germain, and lost to Paris 2:5 with a total score of two rounds. The strong game was eliminated. This is the first time since the 2004/05 season that Messi and Ronaldo have not entered the quarter-finals of the Champions League. It was Mbappe who eliminated Messi. Dortmund’s Haaland, who was promoted at the same time as Mbappe, scored two goals in the 1/8 finals to help the home team eliminate their opponents.
  Today, Mbappe is the core of Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. In the early morning of November 3, Beijing time, in the final match of Group H of the UEFA Champions League group stage, Mbappe scored a goal and became the youngest player with 40 goals in the history of the UEFA Champions League, breaking the record held by Messi for many years.
  The 22-year-old Norwegian center Haaland is 1.94 meters tall and is a “ruthless goal machine”. This summer, Manchester City spent a total of 85.5 million pounds to buy Harland. Haaland also proved his worth with his strength: In the Premier League this season, Haaland staged a “hat trick” in three games. Statistics show that Haaland can score a goal for every 13.6 touches.

  In this year’s “Forbes” annual world football player rankings, the 23-year-old Mbappe has a total income of 128 million US dollars, surpassing Melo for the first time and reaching the top of the list. Another player under the age of 30 in the top ten of the list is Haaland.
  ”I think at present, Mbappe and Haaland are the two most promising superstars. Both of them are the best in terms of skills and statistics. Moreover, Mbappe plays for Paris Saint-Germain, and the gold master behind it is Qatar Sports Investment Company, Harland’s Manchester City is backed by a consortium in the Middle East, Mbappe just in time for the World Cup in Qatar.” Yu Yuan analyzed.
  However, the interviewees pointed out that under the commercialization trend of professional football, players are more like “products” produced on the assembly line and “muppet” of capital. Players need to participate in games more frequently to create greater opportunities for the club. commercial value. In the 2021/22 season, Harland’s former club Dortmund played a total of 48 games. When the intensity was at its peak, the players played a game every three days.
  Mbappe, described by Paris Saint-Germain team-mates as a “capricious child”, has caused him constant controversy. On August 14, in the Ligue 1 Paris 5:2 victory over Montpellier, Mbappe and Neymar had a dispute over who took the penalty kick, and because they were dissatisfied with the passing of their teammates, they gave up running during the attack. The bigger controversy is that in mid-October, foreign media reported that he will leave Paris in January next year because of the discord with the team player Neymar, although Mbappe later clarified that he never wanted to leave.
  ESPN reporter Ryan O’Hanlon believes that behind Mbappe’s series of behaviors is the lack of cultural heritage of the Paris Saint-Germain Club, unlike the most successful clubs in the past five years, such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City. Either there is an established system rule, or a strong coach is adopted to allow new stars to better integrate into the team. Paris Saint-Germain, by contrast, is not building a real team the way professional football is managed.
  From a distance, Mbappe’s football era is different from that of Melo. When Messi first entered the football world, he was constrained by the century-old club system. Ronaldo was brought to Manchester United by Ferguson, and it took years of guidance to help him usher in the peak. “Nowadays, no matter Mbappe or Haaland, after becoming famous, there is no godfather-level person around them to manage and guide them. For the club, it is easier to compromise on star players with commercial interests in order to consider survival. Star The strengths and weaknesses of players will be greatly magnified by market factors, and their future careers may be affected and backlashed.”
  In September, when Mbappe accepted an exclusive interview with foreign media, his rhetoric was questioned but also revealed the truth. Want to replace Messi and Ronaldo, “This is a new generation, Messi and Ronaldo will eventually come to an end, and the position of World Footballer has been waiting for a newcomer.”
  However, the interviewees believe that the value of this generation of young players is too high, living in the comfort zone, and it is difficult to reach the height of the Melo era, “It’s like how many years have passed since the Maradona era to the Melo era. It’s not easy for newcomers to emerge.” “At Mbappe’s age, Ronaldo and Messi have already won the Ballon d’Or.” Yu Yuan said.

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