Football News Update: Portugal’s Calm Approach as Cristiano Ronaldo Enters Victory Lap

As Portugal prepares for the Euro 2024 tournament, the national team is embracing a calmer approach, signaling the end of the Cristiano Ronaldo era. The 38-year-old megastar, who has carried the team on his back for years, is now well into his victory lap, with the focus shifting to the collective strength of the squad.

During the recent friendly against the Republic of Ireland, Ronaldo’s best moments were celebrated by Sport TV, but there is now a more relaxed atmosphere around the team, as the captain himself noted: “I see quite a calm team, I don’t see anyone anxious.”

Massive Fan Turnout and Ronaldo’s Familiar Sights

However, the first public training session in Germany saw a massive turnout of 8,200 fans, with tickets reportedly changing hands for up to €1,000 (£850), and Ronaldo was inevitably hugged and jostled by pitch invaders, a familiar sight at Portugal’s major tournaments.

Martínez’s Light Touch Handling of the Ronaldo Issue

Under new head coach Roberto Martínez, who took over in January 2023, the Ronaldo issue has been handled with a light touch. Martínez has continued to get good service out of the veteran striker without being committed to cater to his every whim, and he has praised the influence of both Ronaldo and veteran defender Pepe on the squad.

A Shift from Individual Brilliance to Collective Strength

As Ronaldo enters the twilight of his international career, the focus has shifted from his individual brilliance to the team’s collective strength. The image of Portugal’s efficient, slick, and powerful performance against Switzerland has become difficult to dispel, and they are now considered genuine contenders to lift the trophy at Euro 2024 in Berlin on July 14.

The language around Ronaldo has also changed, with the “é o melhor do mundo” (he’s the best in the world) mantra no longer necessary. The captain is now admired and loved, but not leaned upon as heavily, as his teammates take turns to lead the way.

“I see quite a calm team, I don’t see anyone anxious.” – Cristiano Ronaldo

This gradual move towards collective self-sufficiency has been in the making for years, with Ronaldo’s struggles at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil serving as a turning point. Under Fernando Santos, the balance of the team was adjusted to allow Ronaldo to be “carried” rather than always being the sole driving force.

As Martínez navigates the Ronaldo situation, there are high hopes that the veteran striker will be as humble as he is effective, with the coach’s light touch and the team’s collective strength offering a promising path forward for Portugal’s quest to win their first European Championship since 2016.

🔗 Source