This is going to be hard.
First of all, I’m a City fan. That alone makes it difficult to appreciate anything tainted by the other team in Manchester and its fak, er, large fan base. So, that’s strike one.
Second, I’m North American. I prefer my soccer players to stand on their own two feet and not to flail around on the pitch like pathetic little pansy boys. Harsh? Yeah, well, what are you going to do?
Lastly, I’m an adult. And, adults are prone to be annoyed by those that consistently throw temper tantrums. Throw a pity party and I’m apt to dismiss you.
That’s a lot reasons to make what I’m about to say really, really difficult. But, here it goes.
Cristiano Ronaldo is damn good. Crazy good—maybe good enough to win this whole tournament by himself. Pele or Maradona good? Well, not yet, but ask me again in three weeks.
Yesterday, the Czechs looked an awful lot like Greece circa 2004. Sure they were being outplayed—possession stats showed Portugal with about two-thirds of the ball—but there was something dangerous about their play. A rope-a-dope sort of thing was going on and it seemed inevitable that the Czechs would nip one off the counter, or off a corner.
Then the Portuguese man-boy decided that enough was enough.
Ronaldo took over. He made it clear that, style aside, he is the best footballer in the world right now.
You can find the way he sometimes plays the game distasteful—and many in the world do—but you can not argue with the brilliance he shows when he puts the theater aside. You don’t have to like Ronaldo to appreciate him.
With the win, Portugal moves straight to the quarterfinals. They do have to play a glorified friendly against the host Swiss, who were tragically eliminated by a Turkish goal in extra time.
The Turks will play the Czech Republic in a match to decide the second team to advance from group A.
Today, the dullest group of the party, Group B goes. Disappointing in their first game, Croatia takes on efficient Germany in what should be a battle for first-place of the group, and the co-host Austria has its best chance to take some points against Poland.