• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Euro 2024: Ronaldo deserves to play for Portugal – Martinez

Roberto Martinez insisted on Friday that Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to play for Portugal at Euro 2024 as the ageing icon prepares to face Turkey in a potentially crucial Group F clash.

Ronaldo, Portugal’s all-time top scorer with 130 goals in a record 208 international appearances, is competing in his sixth European Championship at the age of 39. Despite moving to Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia last year, he remains a key figure in the national team. Martinez confirmed that Ronaldo will play in Dortmund on Saturday.

“I think what’s important is to understand what a player brings. For us, Cristiano brings experience, know-how, goal-scoring opportunities, movement in the box, and the ability to create space,” Martinez told reporters.

Ronaldo played the entirety of Portugal’s 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Leipzig but did not score, with Francisco Conceicao netting the decisive late goal.

“If you want to analyse the stats in terms of the physical side, you need to look at what he’s done in the last 12 months,” Martinez added, noting that Ronaldo scored 44 goals in 45 games for his club last season. He also scored seven times in seven appearances for Portugal leading up to the Euros.

“Cristiano is in the national team of Portugal because he deserves to be, and all the physical stats back up that he can play every four days.”

Portugal trails group leaders Turkey on goal difference in Group F but will qualify for the last 16 in Germany in first place if they win at the Westfalenstadion and Georgia does not beat the Czechs in Hamburg.

Turkey, who beat Georgia 3-1 in their opening match of the tournament, will once again have massive and loud support in Dortmund.

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