Ronaldo still embodies Portugal's hunger for victory

Sports Wednesday 01/June/2016 16:33 PM
By: Times News Service
Ronaldo still embodies Portugal's hunger for victory

Cristiano Ronaldo's hunger for victory is enough to make Portugal a force to be reckoned with in France 2016, where the current generation of Portuguese players may stand before its last chance.
Real Madrid's superstar striker hopes to close with a major title the cycle of a group of talented players who have so far proved unable to lead Portugal to their first international title.
"I am missing a title with Portugal. That would be the culmination of a great career, and I am hopeful," the ambitious Ronaldo said ahead of Portugal's sixth Euro in succession.
"I count on Cristiano to guide us during the tournament. We have to make his ambition, his desire to be the best and to win, our own," said Portugal manager Fernando Santos.
"We are not coming to the Euro just for the ride, we are here to win," Santos warned.
Cristiano Ronaldo is Portugal's captain, a role model for their young players and a reference for their veterans.
He may be 31 by now, but he remains just as voracious and retains his extraordinary ability to compete.
"The new generation is good and has helped us to grow. I think we have a promising future," the Portugal star said.
Portugal will need to combine the experience of many pillars of their team with the power of up-and-coming players including 18-year-old gem Renato Sanches, "a wild animal" according to Rui Vitoria, his coach at Benfica.
Veterans like centre-backs Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho and keeper Rui Patricio give confidence to a defence that is increasingly in need of a fresh approach.
Joao Moutinho is the guiding light in a very able midfield, with youngsters like Danilo Pereira and William Carvalho.
In attack, Cristiano Ronaldo needs to be everywhere to compensate for the poor goal scoring capacity of veteran strikers like Helder Postiga, Ricardo Quaresma, Nani and Hugo Almeida, members of a generation that followed on from the one led by Luis Figo.
After their painful defeat against Greece in Lisbon in the final of their own Euro in 2004, Portugal have struggled to qualify for the continental tournament, but they always performed well: they reached the quarter-finals in 2008 and the semifinals in 2012.
"We may not be the favourites, but we are one of the most dangerous teams," Santos said.

THE STAR: Cristiano Ronaldo is the best Portuguese player of all time, ahead of the "Black Panther" Eusebio. However, the man who won the Ballon d'Or three times and is the top scorer in the history of Real Madrid has never been a prolific scorer with Portugal. Once a very powerful player, age has made Ronaldo a bit too slow to cause trouble on the wing. However, his ample array of options before goal, including both feet, his head, free kicks, back heels and more acrobatic efforts, make him a formidable striker.

THE MANAGER: Santos managed Portugal's three biggest teams, Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, before moving on to the Greece national team, whom he led into the Euro 2012 quarter-finals and the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. He then caught the eye of the Portuguese federation, fresh off an unsuccessful period with Paulo Bento as national team manager. Santos got the team back on track, with the usual dose of solidarity among players that he imposes in his sides.

EURO SCHEDULE: Portugal-Iceland (June 14 in Saint-Etienne); Portugal-Austria (June 18 in Paris); Portugal-Hungary (June 22 in Lyon)

BEST RESULTS: Third place at the 1966 World Cup, finalists at the Euro 2004.

DID YOU KNOW THAT... Portugal never lost a group-round match at a Euro, although they are also the only hosts who have ever lost the tournament final?