Stumbling Portugal prove critics right

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REUTERS

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lviv – When Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo tore off his armband after losing 1-0 to Germany in their opening Euro 2012 Group B game on Saturday, the frustration summed up all that is wrong with his team.

Before the tournament coach Paolo Bento slammed critics who said Portugal would struggle with an uninspired midfield, out-of-form strikers and a high-profile winger who struggles to fire in big tournaments.

But the match appeared to prove the critics right.

“I haven't done the individual analysis yet but I think it was a very good game by Ronaldo,” Bento said.

In truth, the Real Madrid star did little to justify his top billing.

Ronaldo's goal-scoring feats with Real Madrid are remarkable but the reality is that many of the teams in the Spanish top division are ordinary.

Ronaldo's fancy footwork and stepovers might work well against Getafe and Real Zaragoza but when he comes up against quick top-class defenders who refuse to panic, he finds it harder.

Within the first few minutes of the game he literally bounced off the powerfully-built Mats Hummels and had a similarly frustrating time against Jerome Boateng.

Ronaldo had one good chance in the 64th minute when he broke clear into the German box but was denied by a last-ditch tackle from the excellent Boateng.

Bento will also fret about the way the Germans took control of the game simply by sticking close to Ronaldo and Nani, Portugal's other attacking winger.

On several occasions midfielder Joao Moutinho found himself with plenty of space but when he looked for an outlet in the final third of the field both Nani and Ronaldo were closely marked and the attacks broke down.

Before halftime Ronaldo was remonstrating with teammates about the quality of their passing, yet he too was guilty of misplacing the final ball.

Up front the story was even more depressing, with striker Helder Postiga largely ineffective and Hugo Almeida the only experienced alternative.

Portugal still have hope, since Ronaldo and Nani might have more luck on Wednesday against Denmark, a slower team with a defence which is not as strong as Germany's.

“We have to concentrate in the second game and we have to win it,” Bento said. – Reuters


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