There isn’t a player under more pressure to perform for his country in the 2012 UEFA Euro Tournament than the leader of Portugal’s national team, Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, despite all of the talent that Ronaldo has, the question still remains surrounding the face of Portugal soccer, can—and will—he lead the soccer nation to their first ever UEFA Euro championship?
On the latest episode of the T.J. McAloon and the Sports Half Hour podcast, my guest and I discussed how Ronaldo is one of a very small group of players that has the pressure of an entire country on their shoulders during this tournament.
In the long history of Portuguese soccer, Ronaldo hasn’t eclipsed the leaders in most appearances or goals, as those distinct honors belong to Luis Figo (with 127 caps) and Pauleta (47 goals).
However, none of those players had the talent, like Ronaldo has, to carry Portugal to a Euro Championship. Those two players, with Ronaldo playing in his first UEFA Euro Tournament, could only get Portugal to a second-place finish in 2004.
Through the first four matches, Ronaldo has lead the tournament in goals (3), shots (29) and shots on target (14). His goal in Portugal’s quarterfinal match against the Czech Republic was the only goal they needed to push them into the semifinals, where they will face the winner of the match between France and Spain.
Whomever Portugal squares off against in the semifinals, it will be Ronaldo who will be looked upon to carry his country into their second finals appearance in the last eight years.
Ronaldo has the talent to carry this team past either France or Spain and then whomever Portugal meets in the finals. His “shoot-first” mentality that he’s demonstrated in their first four games will be the reason why this team wins their first ever UEFA Euro Championship.
Hey, if a player with as much pressure on them to perform and win a championship as Ronaldo—the Miami Heat’s LeBron James—can win his first title, then Ronaldo can do the same this year.