Ronaldo's Redemption Bid Backfires as Portugal Crash Out of Euro 2024

By Real11 - Jul 6 2024 52 Views

Over-Reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo Cost Portugal Dear at Euro 2024

As the Portugal players trudged off the pitch, consoling each other following their quarter final defeat to France on penalties, the focus inevitably turned to the role of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The superstar did not even miss a minute of the play for Portugal, except for the last 25 minutes against Georgia. And though Ronaldo is an icon of the national side, this insistence of the manager, Roberto Martinez, to keep Ronaldo in the lineup for the entire game, may have played to the disadvantage of Portugal's chances of advancing.

The numbers tell a stark story. Ronaldo has fired off 23 shots in the tournament, more than any player who has failed to score in a European Championship since its inception of the group stage format in 1980. Meanwhile, an expected goals tally of 3.51 sees him become the highest ever top-shot at a major men's tournament since 1980 who has not found the net.

With Martinez making a team to service Ronaldo, it was understandable; the veteran had a prolific scoring record at major tournaments in the past. However, the strain his lack of mobility placed on the Portugal midfield and the growing number of chances he failed to convert should have prompted a rethink.

It was in extra time and the defeat to France where some evident moments of Ronaldo's decline really came to light. A youthful chance scope, that would quite clearly have been buried by him at prime time, sailed over the bar; a rare burst of energy in the press was quite easily brushed aside by Dayot Upamecano.

What is puzzling, though, is that Portugal had suffered enough from relying too heavily on Ronaldo. His predecessor, Fernando Santos, had benched him for the knockout rounds of the 2022 World Cup, which worked out, as Portugal ended up reaching the semifinals.

It seemed Martinez, who was brought in as an outsider to give a new perspective, had fallen into the trap of perhaps paying more heed to the question of Ronaldo's legacy than at finding what works best for Portugal as a whole. The performance did display that he had the tactical nous to outmanoeuvre Didier Deschamps, but his reluctance to rotate or rest his ageing talisman cost him dear.

Portugal went out in a manner that is unlikely to feel much less raw, but Ronaldo's legacy is intact. The doubt is whether Martinez could have found a more pragmatic route to the final stages; one that might acknowledge Ronaldo's physical decline a little earlier, but still kept the best of his considerable influence.

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