After a slow start to the 2012 Euros, it looks like a couple of strong showings from Cristiano Ronaldo have finally silenced his doubters.
There was never a question concerning his talents on the field, but rather why it seemed he always failed to show up in the big matches for Portugal.
That question can no longer be asked after his performance, as well Portugal's performance as a whole, in the victory against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
Portugal came out to play in that last match with many efforts put towards the Czech goal, many of those being completed or set up by the Portugal star himself.
It was not until the 79 minute mark when Ronaldo finally was able to put one in the back of the net, courtesy of a header. That goal wound up sending Portugal into the semifinals against 2010 World Cup champions Spain.
With that goal, Ronaldo has been able to put together two wonderful 90 minutes of soccer against the Dutch and the the Czechs.
Even though he was criticized for his play in the first two games of the tournament against Germany and Denmark, he was not all that bad.
Paulo Bento, the manager of the Portugal side, was quick to defend his star player, as told by David Walsh of The Times Newspapers Limited (via Gulf News).
"He has played two very good games and I am very certain that not a single player in our squad is dissatisfied with him," says Bento.
If Ronaldo does not score, then people feel he is not doing his job on the team.
However, he was still able to put four total shots towards the net in the German match, against a team that is much better than the Portuguese side as a whole.
Also, in the 3-2 win against Denmark, he was criticized for his play even though he had seven total shots towards the net.
Ronaldo was there, he was creating opportunities, and you knew at some point in the tournament these chances were going to turn into goals.
It looks like Ronaldo has finally brought the same game that he brings every time out for Real Madrid to the national team.
That means bad news for Spain when they meet up in the semifinals.
Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star very elegantly put the recent play of Ronaldo in perspective. He suggests that a Euro title this time around may not be totally out of the question with the level of play Ronaldo has risen to:
"Over the past two games, Cristiano Ronaldo has raised his play to that liturgical level. He is writing a masterpiece here. He has two chapters to complete—against Spain? and perhaps Germany?—before it's finished."
If the match against the Netherlands, where Ronaldo was able to finish on two attempts and completely control the game, and the match against the Czechs, were any inclination as to where Ronaldo's game may be headed next, it may get scary.
Greek coach Fernando Santos does not understand why it takes two out-of-this-world performances to make people realize how good Ronaldo is on a day-to-day basis, as he tells Globoesporte (via Luis Mira and goal.com.
"Cristiano Ronaldo is Cristiano Ronaldo...I do not know why people were so critical of him. Now they think he is the best player in the world? Of course he is."
It would seem like the 2012 Euros is a breaking out party for Ronaldo on the international stage, and it does not seem to be over quite yet.
He seems determined to bring back the respect he deserves to get from his national supporters and fans alike.
Scoring three goals in his last two matches will only help to accomplish that. With a huge game against Spain coming up, another strong performance will only cement the fact that the Portuguese star's talent should never be doubted.
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