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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Role at Euro 2024: Can He Lead Portugal to Glory?

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In what could be his final international tournament, the impact of Cristiano Ronaldo on Portugal’s chances at Euro 2024 is a topic of great interest. Portugal secured their place at the 2024 UEFA European Championship with an impeccable record in qualification, winning all 10 matches. With a squad filled with world-class talent from Europe’s top clubs, Portugal is one of the favorites to win the competition. Yet, even at 39 years old, Cristiano Ronaldo remains a central figure for A Seleção.

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Portugal’s Qualification Triumph

Portugal’s qualification campaign was nothing short of spectacular. They were the only team to achieve a 100% record, emphasizing their dominance. Here’s a look at some of the key statistics from their qualification run:

StatisticValue
Matches Played10
Matches Won10
Goals Scored36
Goals Conceded2

Roberto Martínez’s Tactical Approach

Roberto Martínez, appointed as Portugal manager in January 2023, brought a fresh perspective to the team. The former Belgium manager had the challenge of balancing the integration of new talent with the continued presence of Cristiano Ronaldo. Under his guidance, Portugal transitioned from the more defensive style of former coach Fernando Santos to a more attacking and free-flowing approach.

Ronaldo’s Role in Euro 2024 Qualifiers

Despite speculation about a reduced role, Ronaldo played a significant part in Portugal’s successful qualification campaign. Only Bruno Fernandes started more matches than Ronaldo, who featured in nine out of ten games, missing one due to suspension. In terms of overall minutes, Ronaldo was third, showcasing his continued importance to the team. 

PlayerMatches StartedMinutes Played
Bruno Fernandes10844
Rúben Dias9810
Cristiano Ronaldo9726

Performance Metrics

Ronaldo’s performance during the qualifiers was impressive, as he netted 10 goals in nine appearances. This made him the top scorer for Portugal, with only Romelu Lukaku of Belgium scoring more in the entire qualification campaign.

PlayerGoals Scored
Cristiano Ronaldo10
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)14
Gonçalo Ramos6

Less Reliance on Ronaldo

One of the significant tactical changes under Martínez is the reduced reliance on Ronaldo. The current strategy focuses on utilizing Ronaldo’s experience and finishing ability rather than depending on him to create and orchestrate plays. This shift is evident in the statistics:

StatisticValue
Average Touches per Match36.9
Crosses Completed0
Dribbles Completed3
Shots Attempted46
Shots on Target19
Goals Scored10

Lack of Competition?

Despite Portugal’s impressive attacking display in qualifying, domestic performances of Portuguese forwards in Europe’s top leagues were relatively modest. Gonçalo Ramos, with 11 goals for PSG, was the highest-scoring Portuguese player in the top five European leagues.

PlayerClubGoals Scored
Gonçalo RamosParis Saint-Germain11
Bruno FernandesManchester United10
Diogo JotaLiverpool10

In contrast, Ronaldo’s season with Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League was exceptional. He finished as the top scorer, netting 35 goals in 31 appearances.

Ronaldo’s Legacy at the Euros

Ronaldo’s track record at the UEFA European Championship is unparalleled. He is the tournament’s all-time top scorer with 14 goals, having scored in every edition he has participated in since 2004. His contributions were crucial in Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph and their victory in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019.

Conclusion

As Portugal heads into Euro 2024, Cristiano Ronaldo’s role will be pivotal. While he may no longer be the all-action hero of the past, his experience, leadership, and goal-scoring prowess remain invaluable assets. With a talented squad around him, Ronaldo will be aiming to lead Portugal to glory once again in what could be his final international tournament. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, his presence is sure to be felt in Germany this summer.

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