Euro 2016 Finals: Cometh the Hour, Cometh the man. Cristiano Ronaldo winning it for Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s talismanic captain. The world’s best player along with Lionel Messi and currently the man in the finals of the Euros 2016 with his nation. Portugal vs. France the stage is set and it’s almost like the script is written, “Cristiano Ronaldo, succeeding in winning silverware for his nation before Lionel Messi.” With Portugal seeming to have a guardian angel helping them win matches, Cristiano Ronaldo not in the best form and France looking to win it yet again as hosts, the stage is set for both nations to do battle.
Portugal having taken the “easy route” according to many have won only one match within regulation time, the semi-finals against Wales, where they won 2-0 whereas France have had the relatively difficult path to the finals but proving their worth especially after a 2-0 win over strong favorites and world champions, Germany. With the host nation in a firm position to win the trophy on home soil, there are still doubts to whether it will be easy against a Portuguese side looking to cash in on their luck.
Quite obviously, the biggest question and hype surrounds Cristiano Ronaldo. With Lionel Messi taking his nation to 3 major finals and losing them all, this is Cristiano Ronaldo’s second major final with his nation. With the media still in frenzy about Messi in doubts now about his retirement decision after the loss to Chile, it’s no surprise now the world waits to see how the Portuguese man responds. Win it, and he will forever be known as the man to win the Euros for Portugal, lose it however, and the media will not sit idle as they would hound him to no end. So with that said, can Cristiano Ronaldo win it for Portugal?
Portugal’s luck this Euro 2016 has been phenomenal. Winning just 2 matches, they’ve made it to the finals. Arguably they’ve had a slightly easier route but nonetheless, they’ve taken their chances and have made it there. While the spotlight maybe on the youngster Renato Sanches at the moment, Cristiano Ronaldo is building up momentum and will without a doubt be looking to increase on that 3 goal tally.
Portugal have shown that they have patience and are disciplined to wait for their opportunity to strike. While the game plan might not be best suited to Cristiano Ronaldo, their main man; it is however suited for the team as a whole. The importance of such a move is that it allows other players to get into the game and take a bit of the pressure from their captain. With Cristiano Ronaldo obviously still their biggest threat, they will be looking to play the ball into him as much as possible.
The CR7 Factor
So with form and odds on all France’s side, what do Portugal have to offer? The answer? Quite simply, Cristiano Ronaldo. The 3 time Ballon D’Or winner and the all-time leading goal scorer for country and for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo’s stats and figures are quite simply out of this planet. A player considered by many to be complete in all forms of attack and with an insatiable appetite to constantly do better.
Cristiano Ronaldo needs no introduction and even with his form nowhere close to perfect, poses the biggest threat to France. With below par performances he’s already registered 3 goals in the competition, broken records and is slowly picking up momentum. With a predator like him, even if he’s had 89 minutes of terrible luck, it takes just a second for him to switch on and score. France can in no way, underestimate him.
What can he do for his country?
With Portugal playing a more defensive and calculated style of play, Cristiano Ronaldo’s best bet would be playing up top as a striker as he has for most of this tournament. Playing wide wouldn’t really be the best due to the lack of a real striker up front for Portugal. With Jao Mario, Nani and Renato Sanches doing the dirty work of getting past players and defensive duties, the captain should ideally be up front looking to make use of his excellent finishing skills.
As a leader, Cristiano Ronaldo has often been criticised for being selfish and not always there for his team mates, but cometh the hour, cometh the man. He will need to rise up and inspire his nation if he is to win international glory. He has to lead from the front and set the right example to his team mates, this is one game where he ideally should keep his emotions under check.
Lastly, the best thing he can do for his country to help them is quite simply, bring his ‘A-game’. Cristiano Ronaldo on full throttle is a sight to behold, tearing apart defenders and making even the best of defences look like kids, there is no stopping the man when on fire. If he can bring his “A-game” to the finals there could no stopping him, he’s shown his magic by tearing apart world class defenders such as Vincent Kompany, Carles Puyol and the likes.
Another interesting matchup will be Cristiano Ronaldo vs Antoine Griezmann. The UEFA Champions League Final this year was Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid where in, the same 2 players went head to head with an almost similar semi-final clash. With Antoine Griezmann France’s hottest player at the moment and Cristiano Ronaldo quite obviously Portgual’s biggest threat, it’s no surprise either of these two players could be the deciding factor.
With this being Cristiano Ronaldo’s last realistic chance of winning an international trophy, he will be fired up more than ever. In doing so, he would not only have won Portugal their first Euro trophy but also would beat Lionel Messi, who is yet to achieve glory with his nation. Often regarded as selfish and egotistic, this is his chance to show the world that regardless of all the criticism, he is without a doubt one of the best players to grace the beautiful game.
He’s done it countless times for both Manchester United as well as Real Madrid, stepping up when it mattered, being the deciding factor in big games and now he needs to do it again, this time for his country. With both teams looking solid at the back and disciplined as well, the game could be decided on spot kicks. If it does, the spotlight will be on the Portuguese number 7 and with his stats and history of performing, he is sure to be a deciding factor in helping Portugal win their first Euro trophy.