Defeat to Germany Highlights Portugal's Decline and Over-Reliance on Ronaldo
Another major tournament, another 90-minute study in the decline of Portugal and their over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo.
Much has been said of Ronaldo's international rejuvenation under Paulo Bento, but the Real Madrid star was all-too easily neutralized against Germany—as Portugal fell to a 1-0 defeat in Group B.
Gone was the precocious, goose-stepping hitman who scored 60 goals last season; in his place, a man with the weight of a fading football nation on his shoulders.
Stop Ronaldo and you stop Portugal. It's really that simple, and Germany knew it.
According to ESPN stats guru Paul Carr, Ronaldo was limited to just 38 touches in the game—fewer than he had in any game during qualifying. Fewer than nine of his Portugal teammates had in the match.
There was a shot parried by Manuel Neuer and a couple of jinking runs, but the image of Ronaldo we were left with at the end of the game said it all.
Slumped over, with hands on hips, his frustration was obvious. Another big game on the international stage had passed him by.
Perhaps if Portugal had other attacking outlets, they could have exploited the German concentration on Ronaldo in other areas.
But they don't. And they didn't.
Ronaldo wasn't the only big-name creative force to run dry of inspiration in their coming together in the much-hyped "Group of Death."
In a disjointed and disappointing clash, Germany were unrecognizable from the level of expectancy they carried into Euro 2012.
Joachim Low's team are considered second favorites behind Spain, but their much-vaunted attacking thrust went missing in Lviv, Ukraine.
Low started with the combined attacking talents of Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez, but the fluency we expected in the final third was not forthcoming.
Maybe lingering tiredness was to blame—especially when you consider the seven-strong Bayern Munich contingent which went all the way to the Champions League final last season.
Whatever was missing, and for all Portugal's attempts on goal (11 in total, seven on target), Germany still somehow looked the more likely contender.
And when Gomez rose to head home Sami Khedira's cross from the right on 72 minutes, the Germans' slow start was no longer relevant.
Germany will only get stronger. Portugal, meanwhile, may look back on this game as an opportunity squandered.
The Germans were there for the taking, but Portugal simply didn't have the staff to get it done.
It's Denmark next for Ronaldo and his team, and Portugal will go into that one knowing defeat will almost certainly send them home.
The world's second-best player didn't have the answers today. If he can't find them against Denmark, Portugal will continue their slow decline from the team that should have won Euro 2004.
In truth, if they play as they did against Germany, that's exactly the fate they deserve.
But with a talent like Ronaldo to call on, hope—no matter how false—will always run eternal.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?