Why Cristiano Ronaldo Is Under Most Pressure for Portugal After Germany Defeat

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2014

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 16:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Portugal at Arena Fonte Nova on June 16, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Phil Walter/Getty Images

It's highly unlikely that it was Paulo Bento's plan to play Cristiano Ronaldo for the full 90 minutes against Germany.

The first-half injury to Hugo Almeida and Pepe's sending off meant that Portugal had used two of their substitutions by the time the second period kicked off.

Some supporters and media will have wondered why Ronaldo was not hauled off at the break given how they were trailing 3-0 at that point.

Only Bento and his staff know the full extent of Ronaldo's fitness, and it's their prerogative to leave the talisman on the pitch in hope that he could close the negative goal difference.

The further injury to Fabio Coentrao with 25 minutes remaining saw any hope of resting the Real Madrid forward diminish.

Ronaldo was seriously let down by a number of his team-mates, especially those in the back four.

Few could point the finger at Ronaldo for underperforming, but his mere presence can be counterproductive at times as others always look to find him regardless of his position.

"I think having a player like Cris is very importance because he influences the way we play greatly," admitted Bento at a press conference before the encounter, per Goal.com.

"He knows that and, more importantly, his team-mates know that."

That's done with now; the team can't change what's happened, so it's time for Bento and his squad to look ahead to the matches with USA and Ghana.

This is where the pressure on Ronaldo really intensifies. To some extent, the onus on him was less against Joachim Low's men as it was up to his colleagues to step up given his condition issues.

That, of course, didn't happen, and now with a full competitive match under his belt, the challenge shifts to the national captain to rally his troops.

All eyes will be on the Ballon d'Or winner to show that he can lift the spirit of his broken side and produce a display that ignites their World Cup campaign.

If he can strike fear into the opposition with his speed and directness, then he will encourage those around him that they can climb their way out of this group.

Ronaldo is a skipper who leads by example, and by showing that he's back to his best, it would raise the mood of those around him.

It's a difficult act to pull off as there's a thin line between inspiring his team-mates and overshadowing their efforts.

Don't expect him to show the extra burden, as he explained to Spanish magazine DT how he combats his feelings, via Ronaldo7.net:

Before games, what I usually do is to relax, so that pressure never gets to me. I always try to be positive about things and remain confident about my qualities in every single moment. I approach all my games as a new challenge and I always give my best so that I may keep improving my performances. My mental strength is definitely very important to me.

The match on Sunday is huge for his country, and although he has played in bigger occasions throughout his career, it's arguable that he has ever been faced with such distrust of those around him.

He hasn't publicly stated this and nor will he, but the look of bewilderment upon his face as events unravelled told its own story.

This will be the last World Cup for some of these players, and Ronaldo will be hoping he can galvanise them to reach new heights.