Learning From Cristiano Ronaldo’s Euro 2020 Performance

Cristiano Ronaldo, often touted as one of the greatest footballers of all time, faced a challenging Euro 2020 campaign with the Portuguese national team. Despite being a dominant force in the game, Ronaldo struggled to find the back of the net, taking 23 shots without scoring a single goal. His expected goals of 3.51 were the highest without finding the net in a major men’s tournament since 1980. This raises questions about whether Roberto Martinez, the Portugal boss, made the right decisions regarding Ronaldo’s role in the team. Perhaps if Martinez had been more proactive in managing Ronaldo’s place in the squad, the outcome for Portugal could have been different.

Performance Analysis and Strategic Choices

Martinez built a system around Ronaldo that aimed to maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. However, as the tournament progressed, it became evident that Ronaldo’s lack of mobility out of possession was putting strain on the rest of the team. Despite having talented players like Rafael Leão, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, and João Cancelo supporting him, Ronaldo’s struggles to convert opportunities were noticeable. His missed chances, like the one in extra time against France, highlighted a shift in his abilities with age.

Comparisons were drawn between Martinez and his predecessor, Fernando Santos, who had previously dropped Ronaldo in the knockout rounds of the Qatar World Cup. Santos’ decision to sideline Ronaldo raised the question of why Martinez did not take a similar approach during Euro 2020. As an outsider to the Portuguese football culture, Martinez had the opportunity to approach the situation differently. However, his seeming reluctance to make strategic substitutions or rest Ronaldo during critical moments of the tournament may have influenced Portugal’s overall performance.

There is a significant emphasis on preserving Ronaldo’s legacy and allowing him the opportunity to continue making history. However, the decision to keep him on the field for the entirety of matches despite his struggles raises concerns about team dynamics and strategic leadership. Ronaldo’s status as a veteran player does not exempt him from fatigue or performance challenges. It is essential for coaches to recognize when a player’s form is affecting the team and make necessary adjustments for the benefit of the entire squad.

Final Thoughts and Takeaways

While Portugal’s exit from the Euros cannot solely be attributed to Ronaldo’s performance, there are valuable lessons to be learned from his struggles during the tournament. The balance between individual legacy and team success is delicate, requiring careful consideration from managers and players alike. Recognizing when changes are needed and making bold decisions for the team’s benefit is essential for long-term success in competitive football. Ronaldo’s journey in Euro 2020 serves as a reminder that even the greatest players face challenges and require support from their team and coaching staff to achieve optimal results.

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