Euro 2012: Why Cristiano Ronaldo's Success Is a Great Sign for Real Madrid
Despite Portugal’s fall to eventual winners Spain in the semifinals of Euro 2012, there is one player from the Iberian nation that benefits more leading out of the tournament than any other.
That player is, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Although his country can certainly be pleased with his performances in Poland and Ukraine, it’s his club who will perhaps benefit more from the dazzling form the attacker displayed.
After all, it’s with Real Madrid that Ronaldo plies most of his trade year-round, meeting up with his Portuguese teammates only for the odd international or biennial competition.
Regardless of the limp fashion in which they were ejected from this year’s European Championships, Portugal can be proud of the way they went about their business.
Many slated Ronaldo for not stepping up to the 12-yard spot sooner, as the winger-come-striker opted for the fifth place in the penalty shootout lineup—an option that was obviously never used as Spain needed only four attempts to seal the deal.
Reports coming out of the Portuguese camp post-match stated that it was Paulo Bento’s decision for Ronaldo to take the fifth, and presumably last, penalty kick.
In retrospect, of course we can exclaim that this was a bad decision given the fact that the prolific forward has taken penalty duties at both Real Madrid and Manchester United, putting a majority away.
It’s debatable to say that we will never quite know what went on in that huddle at the Donbass Arena after 120 minutes of play had passed and emotions were running extremely high.
Perhaps Bento wanted to keep his hand to himself and save a secret weapon for last, or perhaps it was, as is the consensus amongst some, that Ronaldo lusted after the limelight.
However, given the identical answers to the press from both player and manager, my guess would be the former.
For this, Los Merengues can be pleased that their superstar was mature enough to listen to the instructions of his manager in a time when it could have been so easy to insist otherwise.
In his meteoric career rise, Ronaldo has dealt with big personalities and instructors, and there is no doubt that Paulo Bento will not top the list of the most fearsome of that bunch.
That being said, even after acting as the talismanic captain that Portugal hoped he would be at Euro 2012, the Lisbon prodigy had enough respect to do what was best for his team and not let egos win over—something not unheard of in professional football and something Jose Mourinho may have been particularly happy to witness.
Another aspect of Ronaldo’s tournament that the former Chelsea boss will have been very pleased to see is that he lived up to the wild expectations placed before him, as so many fail to do.
So often do we see a player turn up to an international tournament on the back of a very impressive season and just fail to replicate the form in country colours.
Just look at the Netherlands’ squad at Euro 2012, and you can pick out about six such stars.
However, Ronaldo performed incredibly and led his team like only a true captain of his stature can (not least of which was against the aforementioned Oranje).
After stumbling in the task against Germany, the Real Madrid hitman finally got into fifth gear against Bert van Marwijk’s Holland, scoring both of Portugal’s goals in a 2-1 victory that set up a quarterfinal fixture against Czech Republic.
After scoring 60 goals in Real colours last season, one would think that the only way is down for Ronaldo. However, given the ability that the forward displayed against Europe’s big guns over the last month, it might be possible for the 27-year-old to improve once again.
One can evidently look at the star-studded squad of Real Madrid and be impressed by its glittering talent across the board.
However, in Ronaldo, they have a truly world-class talent—one that will be talked about throughout the ages.
It’s obvious to say that Portugal’s set-up is built around the winger and any success they had at Euro 2012 would assuredly not have come were it not for him.
At Santiago Bernabeu, though, things aren’t quite that simple anymore.
Although he bagged a ridiculous tally of goals last season, Ronaldo showed at this summer’s competition that he is more than capable of being the creator as well as the finisher we all know he can be.
Despite operating from out wide most of the time, we’re all very aware that the ability of the Portuguese maestro makes him equally as dangerous in a more centralised position—one at which he can help out his teammates rather than net himself.
It’s this kind of versatility that Real can be pleased to see. While Portugal may have reached the semifinals of the tournament, the Madrid outfit arguably have more wealth and depth in their attacking ranks.
As his ability has evolved over the years and, more specifically, in Spain, Ronaldo has shirked himself of the selfish nature he sometimes displayed at Manchester United, and Euro 2012 was just the latest example of the man he has grown to become.
Much like Michel Platini was the utility attacker for France in his playing days, Ronaldo has stepped into the role of change for Portugal, playing from wherever the coach feels it necessary that he will do not just the most damage for himself but also for the team.
The story is very much an identical one for Real Madrid.
With the offensive likes of Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Mesut Özil, Kaka and others already at the club, Real have massive depth amongst their ranks.
While this certainly means that the talent at Mourinho’s disposal undoubtedly helps Ronaldo to shine, it works in the opposite manner, too. With the power that he has shown the world over the last two years, Ronaldo can make the rest of his squadmates look better all on his own.
Now a front-runner and arguable favourite for the next Ballon d’Or award, the next box in need of ticking for Real and the talismanic Ronaldo is defending their La Liga title as well as making an impression on the rest of Europe.
The task will by no means be an easy one, but if this future legend continues to excel as he currently is, then the sky’s the limit for both him and his club.
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