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Cristiano Ronaldo: Portugal Star Will Continue to Find Top Form

KHARKOV, UKRAINE - JUNE 17:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Portugal and Netherlands at Metalist Stadium on June 17, 2012 in Kharkov, Ukraine.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images
Steve MazeCorrespondent IIJune 19, 2012

For many star athletes, a poor performance is often the result of either too much pressure or too little confidence.

Whether it was pressure or lack of confidence, Ronaldo started the 2012 Euro Cup sluggishly, scoring no goals in Portugal's first two matches—a loss to Germany and victory over Denmark.

Now I don't consider myself an international soccer connoisseur, but even I knew the amount of pressure Ronaldo was facing this tournament. As the star of the Portuguese team and arguably the best player in the world, Ronaldo had the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders.

With a birth in the quarterfinals on the line though, Ronaldo proved his star ability by netting two goals against the Netherlands to advance his team to the quarterfinal stage.

His performance, with the world watching, reminded me of another recent dominant performance by a star athlete under pressure—Lebron James against the Boston Celtics in Game Six.

Both players were in win or go home scenarios. Both had listened to critics for years say they couldn't produce on the big stage and because of that they would never win the big games. And both waited until the pressure was at its highest to deliver a career performance.

Now that they are through to the quarterfinals though, what will Ronaldo do for an encore?

If it is anything like James has done, Portugal could be the team to fear in the final two weeks of the tournament.

Portugal, who finished second in group B, will face the Czech Republic, winners of group A.

Ronaldo will look to continue being the goal-scoring machine he was against the Netherlands, and honestly, the only way Portugal can win this tournament is if Ronaldo is scoring goals.

After the Netherlands game, Ronaldo will not lack for confidence, and that should intimidate the Czech Republic.

The only thing more fearful than a dominant athlete like Ronaldo, is a dominant athlete playing with confidence—just ask the Celtics.

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