Cristiano Ronaldo's Germany Disappointment Is the Least of Portugal's Concerns

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 16, 2014

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo stands on the pitch as German players celebrate following Portugal's 4-0 loss to Germany during the group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Monday, June 16, 2014.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

Paulo Bento will have been hard-pressed to imagine a more demoralising fashion in which his Portugal side could have opened their World Cup campaign than with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of hotly tipped Germany.

Even with the powers of Cristiano Ronaldo at their disposal, the team from the Iberian Peninsula were helpless, and the captain himself provided little light in a dark display that leaves their hopes of advancing from Group G in some question.

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 15:  Cristiano Ronaldo talks to the media during the Portugal press conference ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Group G match between Germany and Portugal held at the Arena Fonte Novaon June 15, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by
Martin Rose/Getty Images

And even with all his Ballon d'Or-winning powers, Ronaldo could not have stemmed the tide that came Portugal's way on Monday, as a Joachim Low line-up powered by the hat-trick of Thomas Muller steamrolled their opponents into submission.

It was a necessary learning curve, however hard it may have been to accept at the time, telling Bento just how far his side have to come before they're ready to challenge such quality.

However, the coach doesn't seem as willing to accept those circumstances, and per David Ornstein of BBC Sport, he has ordered his players to sever all contact with FIFA media in protest at the officiating conducted in the defeat:

Bento is of course right to be mad, but his ire should be directed at his own staff, not that of the tournament itself. So convincing was the rout that Germany could well have amassed an impressive scoreline even if Pepe had not been sent off for a first-half head-butt on Muller.

Via Bleacher Report

It's in games like this that a team would like to be able to call upon their star players and captain to lead them in times of crisis. In Ronaldo, Portugal have both, but it's a blessing and a curse having so much responsibility rolled into just one part of the team.

The Football Front shows just how little penetration the Real Madrid star made into the German box, not afforded the opportunities he craved to succeed against truly remarkable competition:

A malleable German midfield trio of Sami Khedira, Philipp Lahm and Toni Kroos was incredibly effective against the Portuguese; each player compensated for their squadmate when necessary, providing cover or support in equal measure.

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 16:  Joao Moutinho (C) and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (R) react toward referee Milorad Mazic during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Portugal at Arena Fonte Nova on June 16, 2014 in Salvador, Braz
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Portugal's resources don't allow for that same versatility, and the scenario looks even worse with Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao picking up muscle injuries in the opening fixture.

ESPN FC's Real Madrid correspondent Nicholas Rigg quotes Bento in confirming that early signs on those absences aren't positive:

Of course, the Portuguese can hope for things to improve against Ghana and the United States, but a string of results against lesser opponents won't solve the lack of dynamism in this Portuguese team, the likes of which heaps an unfair amount of pressure on Ronaldo to always pull them through.

On Tuesday, Portugal will get a look at Group H favourites Belgium and Russia. With a runners-up place in Group G looking like their highest ambition at this point, Bento can only hope his side aren't the only ones who fall short of expectation.