After a disappointing third place result in Group F, Portugal face Croatia in the Round of 16. Cristiano Ronaldo and co. were less than convincing against perceivably weaker sides (Hungary, Iceland, and Austria).
Portugal Knockout Rounds Preview
Nani provided the only goal in the first two group stage matches (Iceland and Austria) for Portugal. Partnering forward, Ronaldo, took twenty shots (4 on target) in those same matches, converting zero and missing a penalty kick. Lack of production could be attributed to playing in a forward role. Playing for Real Madrid, Ronaldo is most comfortable playing with space on the wing and attacking defenders.
Ronaldo has been, and will continue to be, the key to Portugal’s success. Two goals in ten shots (three on target) in the final group stage match furthered that truth. Ronaldo must convert his chances to prevent Portugal’s worst finish in the tournament since not qualifying in 1992.
Portugal Round of 16 Potential Lineup
Portugal began their campaign in a 4-3-1-2 formation, playing João Moutinho behind Nani and Ronaldo. Fernando Santos, Portugal manager, switched to a 4-4-2 for the following two matches and is expected to continue with this formation. João Mário and Eliseu were the only changes from the second match to the third. They replaced Ricardo Quaresma and Raphael Guerreiro. Santos will stick with the bulk of the same starters who appeared in all three group matches. Squad rotation, or lack thereof, could show tired legs making a difference in the Round of 16.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Euro History
Ronaldo’s two goals against Hungary made him the first player to score in four Euros. He has, also, set a new final tournament appearance record at seventeen matches. One more historical achievement remains. Ronaldo’s next goal will tie him with Michel Platini (France) for the most final tournament goals in history (9).