Has Ronaldo missed his chance of international glory?

Portugal were left on the brink after another frustrating draw at Euro 2016

Has Ronaldo missed his chance of international glory?
(Picture from Sky Sports)

He’s accumulated a bunch of Premier League winners' medals, a hat-trick of Ballon d'Ors and has lifted the Champions League trophy on three separate occasions, yet success on the international stage still eludes Cristiano Ronaldo – maybe it always will.

His Portugal side are on the brink at Euro 2016 after two lamentable draws against lower ranked opponents, and they will probably have to beat Hungary in their final group game to reach the knock-out stages.

That outcome may not sound too far-fetched, however it is now well-documented, after last night’s goalless draw with Austria, that their talismanic figure is having an implausible nightmare at the tournament in France.  

Nightmare For Ronaldo   

If Ronaldo’s tawdry comments after the frustrating draw with Iceland weren’t enough - when he criticised the opposition’s ‘small nation mentality’ and refused to swap shirts with Aron Gunnarsson at full time - then his ill-fated performance against the Austrians gave the impression that Euro 2016 is just not his competition.

A series of missed chances, a squandered penalty and a (rightly) disallowed goal means Ronaldo is still hunting for his first goal at these Championships and, just like his chances of winning some silverware with Portugal, time is running out - fast.

Now 31 years of age, Ronaldo may have just been born at the wrong time to coincide with best his country has to offer. The Real Madrid superstar wasn’t at the peak of his powers when, alongside the likes of Luís Figo and Deco, he and Portugal were surprisingly beaten by Greece in the final at Euro 2004.

Fast forward 12 years, and the latest crop off the Portuguese production line appear to have plenty of promise following their run the final of the Under 21s Championships in the Czech Republic last year. But will Ronaldo be around long enough to see them fully blossom and succeed at a major tournament?

Evidence would suggest that it won’t happen here, so if Ronaldo is to lift a trophy on the international stage then attentions may have to move towards the World Cup in two years’ time or Euro 2020, when he would be 35.

New Portuguese Stars Have Talent 

Portugal's William Carvalho (Picture: Sky Sports)
Portugal's William Carvalho (Picture: Sky Sports)

That’s not to say Portugal can’t succeed without Ronaldo and there were signs, against Austria, of the potential that many possess.

Midfielder William Carvalho, aged 24, particularly caught the eye by spraying a range of passes out to the flanks and it was clear to see why so many big clubs are monitoring his progress.

Valencia playmaker Andre Gomes is another one who is on many high-profile shopping lists and his Spanish employers have already reportedly turned down a £32 million bid from Chelsea for the talented 22-year-old.

Even so, Portugal’s ageing backline remains a concern and, despite keeping their first clean sheet against of the tournament, 38-year-old Ricardo Carvalho and the erratic Pepe weren’t entirely convincing when the opposition broke out of their own half.   

Slow Build Up Play Helps The Opposition

Like against Iceland, the Portuguese weren’t helped by the fact that Austria were contempt to defend in numbers, Ronaldo would call it a small nation’s mentality - others would say its common sense, and just like in their opening game Portugal’s slow build up play fell into their opponent’s hands.

There were a few quicker one-touch attacking moves near the Austrian penalty area, like the goal Portugal did score against Iceland, but not many.

Instead there were a number of high floated crosses into the Austrian box form full backs Vieirinha and Raphaël Guerreiro, which the central defenders Sebastian Prödl and Martin Hinteregger dealt with all evening.

Despite a forgettable 90 minutes, Ronaldo did roam around and force a couple of saves from keeper Robert Almer, who also produced a fine stop to prevent Nani mid-way through the first half.

Austria didn’t create half as many chances but came closest to breaking the deadlock when David Alaba’s free kick had to be hooked off the line by Vieirinha before half time.

Despite their dominance in possession Portugal will have to improve in the final third and hope that Ronaldo finds his shooting boots if they are to progress to the knock-out stages.