Six superstars who failed to produce at a major finals

The below par play of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thomas Muller and, at the time of writing, Cristiano Ronaldo at these European Championships has fans scratching their head.
Ronaldinho failed to perform at the 2006 World Cup. Picture: GettyRonaldinho failed to perform at the 2006 World Cup. Picture: Getty
Ronaldinho failed to perform at the 2006 World Cup. Picture: Getty

How come players who have been so devastating for their clubs over recent seasons fail to produce it at a major finals?

Whatever the reason, this trio - along with the likes of David Alaba, Harry Kane and Eden Hazard - can at least console themselves with the fact they are in some very good company.

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Here are six other superstars who failed to produce on the grandest stage.

Marco van Basten (1990 World Cup with the Netherlands)

The reigning European champions went into the 1990 World Cup in Italy as one of the sides favoured to win it all. Not only were they reigning European champions, they had within their ranks the deadliest goalscoring in Italian football. Van Basten won Italy’s Golden Boot in the season leading up to the finals, but instead of continuing his good form the Dutch drew all three of their group games before losing to West Germany in the last 16. Van Basten didn’t score once.

Ronaldinho (2006 World Cup with Brazil)

This was Ronaldinho in his prime, when football took priority over partying. The playmaker netted 26 times with 23 assists the season leading up to the tournament, where he also aided Barcelona in winning their first Champions League crown in 14 years. In Germany he never found the back of the net once as Brazil were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by France.

Fernando Torres (2010 World Cup with Spain)

Even though Torres suffered through an injury-troubled campaign leading up to the finals, he still managed to net 18 times in his 22 Premier League games, living up to his reputation as one of the world’s most predatory strikers. In South Africa he may have played in every game as Spain won the trophy, but he failed to score in any of them, as the conversation was dominated by ‘what’s wrong with Torres?’ debates. The Guardian even likened him to Emile Heskey. Ouch.

Wayne Rooney (2010 World Cup with England)

The 2010 World Cup was not an arena for attacking players to shine, it would seem. Rooney netted 34 times the season previous and was prolific for England during the qualifiers. At the tournament he was part of a lacklustre England side that never turned up and exited at the last 16 stage to Germany.

Lionel Messi (2010 World Cup with Argentina)

This World Cup sat right in the middle of the two seasons which catipulated Messi from one of the best players in the world to one of the best players of all time. He netted 47 goals the previous year and 53 the year after. Yet, somehow, he didn’t score at all in the 2010 World Cup where Argentina crashed out to Germany in the quarter-finals.

Robin Van Persie (2012 Euros with The Netherlands)

RVP Scored 37 goals the season before, a career high, which landed him a move to Manchester United. However, the Netherlands, despite being one of the pre-tournament favourites, would lose all three of their group games, with van Persie netting only once in a 3-2 defeat to Germany.

• Any we’ve left out? Make sure to tell us in the comments.

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