Cristiano Ronaldo Can't Deliver; Portugal Exits Euro 2008
As much as I hate to admit it, Cristiano Ronaldo is a pretty good player. He's done very well for himself at age 23, with a few Premier League championships, a Champions League title, and a few other cups.
However, the one thing he's never done is win a major tournament with the Portuguese national team, the best result being a runner's-up medal in Euro 2004.
So the stage was set for Portugal this year. CR was at the top of his game and the rest of the squad had big years, especially the Chelsea contingent and Pepe with Real Madrid.
They romped through their first two group games before resting nine starters for the loss against Switzerland. While Germany clearly would not have been their first choice in opponents, you play the cards you're dealt.
However, the German squad was in perfect harmony today, defeating the Portuguese 3-2. The German goals were all quality strikes, although Ballack's winner wasn't without dispute due to his push off Ferreira.
The first Portuguese goal was opportunistic, led by a great run by CR and finished by Gomes. The second, scored by Postiga, was made possible by the hard running of Nani, another one of my targets for disdain.
The thing that struck me about the game was that Ronaldo seemed absent for large parts of it. Sure, he had the run that led to the first goal, but his usual great service was missing, and his set pieces were appalling.
After Gomes came out and handed CR the captain's armband, he seemed to just fade into the field, with no good chances and a lack of all those things that make him so popular with Manchester fans.
So, what now? For his legacy to be cemented as an all-time great, I'd argue that CR has to lead his country to at least one title. They've come close, but second place never made a legend. Would Gerd Muller be as big a German hero if they had never won a tournament? Doubt it.
Also, will he move to Real Madrid? Seems to me that the only person who actually knows is CR. The offseason will be an interesting one.
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