Football

World Cup: Portugal too reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo?

Ronaldo has 49 goals for his country. (©GettyImages)
Ronaldo has 49 goals for his country. (©GettyImages).

When you have someone as good as Cristiano Ronaldo in your ranks, it's easy to forget that football is a team game.

But, with just one month to go before their opening game of the World Cup, we want to know if Portugal are too reliant on their star man? Or do they have a hidden strength in depth in their World Cup squad?

Ronaldo is not only one of the best players in the world, he's one of the footballers to have ever played the game, and that makes him a dangerous proposition for any opposition.

However, if you can do what few teams have done in the past and silence the threat of the 110-cap winger, do you silence Portugal as a whole?

Ronaldo is brilliant - he's fast, he's strong, his dribbling is mesmeric and his finishing is lethal, but he's just one man in a squad of 23 internationals.

Regardless of how good he may be with the ball at his feet, Ronaldo isn't likely to do much in the way of defending this summer, and that's where the likes of Fabio Coentrao come in to play.

The left-back is a teammate of Ronaldo at Real Madrid, and that experience means he's accustomed to being left to cope on his own as teams attack down Portugal's right flank.

And, not only is he used to doing Ronaldo's dirty work, he's also used to the pressure of a World Cup scenario, having started all four of Portugal's games in 2010.

Joining him in defence will be the experienced duo of Bruno Alves and Pepe, meaning Paolo Bento's side will be confident of keeping clean sheets this summer, especially with the added protection of Sporting Lisbon starlet William Carvalho sitting in front of them.

There's certainly creativity in the midfield, even without Ronaldo.

Admittedly this season has been a disaster for him, but Nani will be desperate to prove he's still a bundle of tricks, and if teams double up on his former Manchester United teammate, he has got what it takes to exploit any space afforded to him.

While Nani attempts to sparkle on one wing, it will be left to Monaco schemer Joao Moutinho to control the middle of the pitch, and a lot of Portugal's game will go through him.

In fact, such is Moutinho's style of play, it's likely he'll see more of the ball than Ronaldo himself.

That just leaves us with the strikers. Do Portugal have a goal threat should Ronaldo go missing, be it through injury or poor form.

Well, Helder Postiga and Hugo Almedia aren't names that will strike fear into the best defences in the world, but their international strike rates suggest they shouldn't be ignored.

Postiga has netted 27 times in 66 appearances for his country, while Almeida, who is mainly used as a target man, has scored 17 goals in 53 games.

So yes, Ronaldo may be the star man for Portugal, and if he plays well it will dramatically increase their chances of success this summer. But, anyone who thinks he's their only threat could be in for a nasty surprise.


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Topics:
World Cup
Football
Cristiano Ronaldo

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