Cristiano Ronaldo in crisis: will he become a problem for Portugal?

Up until the 88th minute, everything indicated that Portugal would beat Spain 0-0 and make it into the Nations League Final Four series.

Cristiano Ronaldo in crisis: will he become a problem for Portugal?

Up until the 88th minute, everything indicated that Portugal would beat Spain 0-0 and make it into the Nations League Final Four series. But then Álvaro Morata scored to make it 1-0, allowing big neighbors Spain to overtake. One might have tasted this very little. We're talking about Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed several good chances and received a lot of criticism. The 37-year-old is becoming more and more of a problem for Portugal.

191 games, 117 goals: Such is Cristiano Ronaldo's unbelievably strong record in the jersey of the Portuguese national team. The five-time world soccer player is the big star of the team and an icon in his homeland. The only problem is: CR7 has its best days behind it and is in a low form - also due to age. Ronaldo has certainly distracted himself a little with his desire to change and is currently only a substitute at Manchester United. He's still waiting for his first goal of the season for the Red Devils. The attacker was able to score at least in the Nations League game against the Czech Republic, but that was only his second goal in the national team in 2022. For comparison: In 2021 CR7 took 13 more shots and scored five European Championship goals in four games . The fact that Ronaldo is currently lacking in form and self-confidence was also evident in the last match against Spain. The veteran had several good chances, but none of them could be used. "He had three or four chances. Two very good ones, which he usually uses. This time he didn't score," criticized national coach Fernando Santos. Ronaldo looked noticeably battered and bruised and certainly not as if the Nations League elimination would pass him by without a trace. The veteran also knows that he is being watched and has to perform.

Again and again there are discussions that the team would be even better without Ronaldo. Mais Futebol journalist Sergio Pires explained the Ronaldo problem in March as follows: "When Ronaldo comes up, everyone knows that the ball should be passed to him as often as possible. Everyone wants to use it and just not annoy him. The team is like that not as free and creative in their game as without him."Focusing on Ronaldo is a problem precisely because Portugal has a whole range of outstanding offensive skills. Mention should be made of players such as Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, João Félix, Diogo Jota and Rafael Leão. In the past, however, it has often been seen that the players mentioned in the Portugal kit do not come close to their usual performances in club football. This can certainly have something to do with Ronaldo being too much in the foreground. The best scenario would probably be if Ronaldo simply acted as part of the squad and sorted himself into the team structure. Of course, the attacker will always be the leader figure when he's on the pitch, but the whole game can't be focused on him. Portugal has many individualists who shine in their own way and can decide games. Rafael Leão, for example, does this regularly in Milan.

However, it should also be said that there is currently no clear center forward in Portugal who also snaps regularly. João Félix or Diogo Jota could play for CR7 in the center forward. Neither of them have scored a single goal of the season. Things are going similarly badly for André Silva, who only scored in the cup against Teutonia Ottensen and was not called up for international matches. So in a way, Cristiano Ronaldo is lucky that the other Portuguese clippers are also in a slump in form. Otherwise, the debate would rage much louder as to whether Ronaldo should even be in the starting XI. Portugal currently has a problem anyway - with or without Ronaldo. In any case, it is clear that Fernando Santos will let the superstar play. This is less of a sporting and more of a political decision. The 37-year-old has a gigantic fan base. The CR7 name and brand are too big and powerful, and there is at most a handful of coaches who would go through with a measure like "Ronaldo on the bench". Fernando Santos is not one of them. However, the coach is still asked not to find the best solution for Cristiano Ronaldo, but the best solution for the Portuguese national team. After all, this is his job. The coach needs to find a style of play where all the stars can shine equally. It is certainly up to Ronaldo to adapt his gestures, facial expressions and speech. The team doesn't need a Ronaldo who complains or waves his hand when he doesn't get the ball, but also has to give his colleagues the signal to have confidence in themselves. In this way he can perhaps also change the way of thinking of the other players, which has probably been burned in a bit over the years. Only in this way is the Portuguese offensive still stronger today with the team captain and good enough to have a say in the title fight at the World Cup. After the World Cup, a resignation of the 191-time national player is not likely anyway - CR7 recently stated that he would also like to take the EM 2024 with him.

This article was originally published on as Cristiano Ronaldo in crisis: will he become a problem for Portugal? released.

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