Cristiano Ronaldo has had one of the most celebrated careers in football history. The Portuguese striker has set records left and right while being considered an elite player for well over a decade. Of course, when you’re talking about football, you have to mention the World Cup. Even countries that aren’t represented in the event are tuning in, shining the spotlight on the world’s top players.
During his career, Ronaldo played in five World Cups with varying success. Let’s take a look at how he performed in each World Cup and rank those five performances from worst to best. Interestingly enough, the legendary player has never been to the World Cup Finals but has come awfully close.
There were four teams who were given better odds to win the 2014 World Cup over Portugal, meaning that the squad should have accomplished much more than they did. With Brazil playing host, the Portuguese team had their worst World Cup in the Ronaldo era in what should have been a relatively easy group to advance from.
Portugal was slotted in Group G with Germany, the United States, and Ghana. Germany easily qualified, winning two matches while drawing with Ghana. As for Portugal, they tied with the United States in points but had a -3 goal differential. In three games, Portugal was outscored 4-7, with Ronaldo only netting one goal himself.
The expectations for Portugal weren’t as high in 2010 as they would be four years later, but there was still some hope that the then-young Ronaldo would excel in his first World Cup while wearing the #7 kit. While Portugal advanced out of the group stage, Ronaldo didn’t have a strong event with just one goal throughout and a yellow card.
Portugal was given a tough test in the group stage, as they were placed with Brazil and the Ivory Coast while North Korea allowed the other teams to get an easy victory. Portugal defeated North Korea 7-0, with Ronaldo scoring the seventh goal. They drew in their matches with Brazil and the Ivory Coast, both of which were scoreless. In the round of 16, they advanced on penalty kicks over Japan after a 0-0 match, but then lost 1-0 to rival Spain.
The 2006 World Cup in Germany marked the first time in which the legendary Ronaldo played in the event, and it was the fourth time in World Cup history where Portugal qualified. The oddsmakers gave Portugal the ninth-best chance to win the title, so they would end up exceeding expectations.
Ronaldo scored one goal in his six matches, the most that he played in a singular World Cup event. Portugal won all three of its group stage matches over Mexico, Angola, and Iran, with Ronaldo’s lone goal coming against Iran. Portugal advanced to the semifinals after defeating the Netherlands and England, but lost 1-0 to France and then 3-1 to Germany in the third-place game.
There weren’t quite championship aspirations for Portugal in 2022 as Ronaldo had started the twilight of his career a couple of years prior, but there was still a good squad around him. Portugal entered as the ninth-ranked country in the world, and they would mildly surpass what was expected from them. With Qatar playing host, Portugal was given a group with South Korea, Uruguay, and Ghana.
Many expected Uruguay to join Portugal as the other squad to advance, but the South Koreans would advance on goals scored. Meanwhile, Portugal won thy group with two wins and a loss to South Korea to help the Korean team advance. Portugal then dismantled Switzerland 6-1 in the round of 16 before being knocked out in the quarterfinals in a 1-0 upset by Morocco. Ronaldo finished the World Cup with one goal in his five matches.
If there was ever a year in which Portugal was going to make a run at the World Cup finals, it was to be 2018. That was when the country had Ronaldo in his prime and they were expected to at least reach the semifinals by a lot of experts. While they didn’t make it that far, the Portuguese still had a solid showing, with Ronaldo having his best World Cup.
In a group that also held Spain, Iran, and Morocco, Portugal defeated Morocco 1-0 while drawing 3-3 with Spain and 1-1 with Iran. In the round of 16, Portugal ran into Uruguay, but ultimately suffered a 2-1 loss that knocked them from the tournament. Overall, Ronaldo had four goals in the four matches that he played, including a hat trick against rival Spain in a match that the Portuguese held with a sense of pride despite ending in a draw.