“We don’t have Messi”: Portuguese legend Deco analyzes Argentina’s dominance at the Qatar World Cup while explaining Portugal’s struggles with Cristiano Ronaldo

Former FC Barcelona and Portugal midfielder Deco is one of the most renowned names in the soccer world. He is one of a handful of players to have played alongside both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Retired in 2013, Deco is currently working as an agent at his own player agency, D20. He is also known to do a bit of punditry. Recently, the former Portuguese national team player shared his insight on how Portugal fell short in the 2022 World Cup and how his former teammate Lionel Messi rose to the occasion and motivated his side to claim the title.

Deco admits Argentina won Qatar World Cup due to Lionel Messi

After a long wait, seven times Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi finally lifted the coveted World Cup trophy with heroic performances in the 2022 tournament. Despite losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their opening game, Messi was inspirational throughout the tournament to teammates and fans alike, which was pivotal to Argentina’s success.


Messi’s former teammate, Deco, believes so as well. In an interview with Argentinian outlet TR Sports, Deco stated that his national team wasn’t triumphant despite having Cristiano Ronaldo on it, simply because it didn’t have Messi.


“Argentina won the World Cup because they have Messi. For us, Portugal had the best generation of good players, but we don’t have Messi,” said Deco.

Cristiano Ronaldo struggled with Portugal at the World Cup

Five times Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo was an eyesore at the 2022 World Cup. He managed to score only one goal in five appearances, and even started on the bench in the ever important knockout games. Portugal were eventually knocked out by Morocco in the quarterfinals, where Ronaldo came off the bench and failed to make an impact. Unlike his GOAT rival Messi, Ronaldo failed to initialize the resurgence in the Portugal team.

While the death of Ronaldo’s son just a couple of months before the tournament may have affected his play, the fact that this was probably going to be his final chance to win the Cup of Life before retiring meant that expectations were already sky-high. 


Nevertheless, Portuguese legend Deco still holds him as high as Lionel Messi. In an earlier interview with Planet Football, Deco said: “Though Messi takes care of himself like a normal athlete, Ronaldo is unbelievable. It borders on sickness because he always wants to be the best at his job. He competes in everything.”

“They are both phenomenal footballers but in different ways. They are far and away the best footballers in the world,” he added.

Who do you think is better between Ronaldo and Messi? Let me know more on your take on the GOAT debate in the comments.




Tanzeem Rahman

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Tanzeem Rahman is a soccer writer and an editor at SportsZion. Tanzeem's love for the sport began by watching and admiring Cristiano Ronaldo in his early Manchester United days. Having graduated from Germany as an Electrical Engineer, Tanzeem has watched multiple high-profile games throughout Europe from the gallery. His knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport, as well as sublime english proficiency has been an asset to SportsKnot. Outside of his duty, Tanzeem is a gamer, and loves to spend time watching Anime and reading Manga.


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