Can Cristiano Ronaldo come alive and help Portugal to the Euro 2012 championship?
He has been so inadequate that Danish fans taunted the Portuguese national with chants of “Messi! Messi!” despite Denmark falling to Portugal Wednesday night, 3-2.
According to Stuart James of The Guardian, a petulant Ronaldo responded to a question about the Messi chants by saying: “You know where he was at this time [last year]? Do you know? He was being eliminated in the Copa America, in his own country. I think that’s worse, no?”
No, not worse. Messi’s Argentinian national team made the quarterfinal of the Copa America last year before losing to eventual champion Uruguay 5-4 on penalties.
Against Denmark, Ronaldo was on the field in Lviv, missing opportunities to score for his country. At one point—after a blatant non-call on an offside—he attacked the goal all alone and could not maneuver around the keeper to put the game away.
He struck wide right, instead.
Although Ronaldo leads the tournament with eight attempts on target, he has yet to score. He has not converted an attempt in five consecutive matches for his country, last hitting the net—twice—during a 6-2 drubbing of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a mid-November Euro playoff last year.
How will this scoring drought tarnish his résumé?
This is not the first—or the longest—scoring drought of the 27-year-old’s international career; however, this drought is not just over the past five games, and it’s larger than the one previous during the 2008-2009 football campaign.
Since the start of the 2006 season Ronaldo has scored 111 goals in 173 appearances for Manchester United and Real Madrid—a .642 goals-per-game average. In 24 appearances for Portugal he has netted just nine—a .375 goals-per-game average.
If Ronaldo fails to help his fellow countrymen on the grandest of stages, how can he be considered one of the world’s greatest footballers?
The thought seems absurd, but it is valid.
Perhaps he simply is able to beat up on lesser competition in the Premier League and in La Liga but crumbles when the talent against which he plays is of a more saturated nature. But his team needs him; Portugal need him.
The bad news for Portugal is that he does indeed crumble under the pressure of his entire country.
According to Goal.com’s Joe Doyle, Ronaldo said he doesn’t care that he’s not scoring, as long as his country gets the win.
“If I don’t score a single goal and Portugal win the Euro I’ll take that right now,” Ronaldo said after the match [with Denmark]. “Yes, maybe I demonstrated I was angry at myself [after missing chances]. I could have done better with the chances I had, but the important thing is that we are still in the race. Now we have to win our next match.
Should Cristiano Ronaldo Come Off the Bench for Portugal at Euro 2012?
When we were winning 2-0, we thought the game was practically in our hands. We had to score a third to kill off the game but we could not do it,” he said. “We had a lot of difficulties but in the end we had the luck that we did not have against Germany, and we were able to win.”
Relying on luck and ifs is terrible. What happens when the luck runs out and Portugal is eliminated with nary a point from its biggest star?
Should the above paragraph occur, will questions arise regarding whether Ronaldo can help his country at all? Would it be best to use him off the bench? Or, should he be left off the roster completely?
Once again, absurd but valid questions.