Euros 2024

Should Portugal Move On From Cristiano Ronaldo?


Questions are swirling after Cristiano Ronaldo’s underwhelming performance against Slovenia on Monday. The Portugal captain, seemingly determined to be the sole star of the show, dominated the headlines after a performance that left more to be desired. The Waldstadion crowd witnessed a legendary player plagued by the sands of time. Is this the end of an era for Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal?

Cristiano Ronaldo Still Has It? Stats Could Be Deceiving

On plain sight, Cristiano Ronaldo is coming off of a prolific season. He has found the net no less than 35 times in 31 appearances for his Saudi Pro League team, Al Nassr.

Despite his outstanding numbers, Ronaldo could not steer his team to domestic league glory in Saudi Arabia. While the five time Ballon d’Or winner keeps on speaking highly of the Saudi top flight, there’s a clear difference in overall quality when compared to Europe’s top divisions. Perhaps that’s why media outlets have given more attention to his on-field antics rather than highlighting his performance.

Ronaldo’s latest outing against Slovenia was another stark reminder of his ineffectiveness against well-drilled defensive units. Undoubtedly, the former Real Madrid man is one of the best attackers in the history of the game. But, at the age of 39, he refuses to accept that he is not at his peak anymore.

He was unable to pierce holes into the Slovenian backline that was happy to sit back and defend. After failing to breach the defence, he tried to torment them with free-kicks. The Portuguese captain stepped up to take every single setpiece opportunity his team got, but most of his attempts were below par.

The first half of extra time presented a golden opportunity for Cristiano Ronaldo – a penalty. Yet, his hopes for a dramatic winner were dashed by Jan Oblak’s heroics. The save left Ronaldo visibly emotional on the pitch.

However, Portugal rose from the ashes in the penalty shootout. Young goalkeeper Diogo Costa emerged as the hero, making three superb saves to secure victory. While Portugal celebrated a hard-fought win, the missed penalty remains the biggest talking point of the night.

While missing a penalty is a part of the game, even for the best players, Cristiano Ronaldo’s reaction to his crucial miss in extra time might lead Portugal manager Roberto Martinez to consider the team’s long-term strategy.

“It’s football, those who fail are those who try too,” Ronaldo said after the match. “I will always do my best for this shirt, whether I fail or not. You can’t be afraid, I’ve never been afraid to face things head on, sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t, but giving up is something you’ll never hear from my name.”

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to exhibit the strongest sense of urgency among his Portugal teammates on the pitch. That, however, has not been benefitting the 2016 European champions lately.

Ronaldo’s unquenchable thirst for individual success has worked out for his teams in the past because he had the quality to make the difference. Unfortunately, he is approaching the swan song of his career, so he cannot expect the same level of impact now.

Portugal have several exciting talents in the pipeline, many of whom grew up idolising Ronaldo. Perhaps, it’s now time for them to take the mantle from their icon and usher in the next chapter of Portuguese football.