Following a 1-1 draw against Iceland in Euro 2016, Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo lambasted what he saw as the "small mentality" of the Icelanders, whose tactics amounted to "defend, defend, defend," contrasting these tactics with those of his own team, who "try to play football." The Real Madrid star seemed outraged that the Icelandic defence had denied him as much space as he would have liked and had the audacity to prevent his side winning the game.
Yet, in spite of the Icelanders efforts, Portugal retained over 70% of possession but, other than scoring the opening goal, did precisely nothing with it.
Whatever passing artistry the Portuguese were trying to create, none of it resulted in scoring the three goals needed to surpass Hungary's 2-0 win against Austria and top the group. Nani managed to send a sitter wide, Ronaldo missed a header and then, as the game drew to a close, hit his free kick against the wall, twice.
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The Portuguese team is undeniably talented. Despite frequent exhibitions of play-acting with demand their own TV soap, Pepe remains one of the best defenders in the world. Their midfield features new Bayern Munich signing Renato Sanches, who at only 18, is one of the most highly regarded players in Europe. The skilful Joao Moutinho is also included in the midfield, while former Manchester Utd misfit Nani, veteran Ricardo Quaresma and of course the exceptionally talented Ronaldo play up front.
If the team's star player was as magnanimous as he is talented with the ball at his feet, he would have observed what was clear to everybody watching the match.
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For all the individual skill in their team, Portugal are not clinical enough in front of goal. Iceland had four shots, all of which were on target and scored one goal, their more established opponents had 26 shots but only managed to get nine of them on target and one in the net.
So in spite of the exceptional Icelandic defending, Portugal still had clear attempts on goal in addition to Nani opener and missed all of them. They also failed to make anything from a further 17 shots.
Far from criticising Iceland for not prancing around enough, the Portuguese strikers should be embarrassed by their inability to put the ball in the net and rueful of the missed opportunity to top the group on goal difference in the opening match.
Instead of sending a powerful message to the other teams in the group, Portugal have made it clear that if you can effectively defend against them and nick a goal, a ticket to the next round of competition is on the horizon.
Ronaldo should study the example of teams such as Wales, who scored the chances they had against Slovakia and won the game, rather than firing verbal shots at the Icelandic defence afterwards.
If he focused on getting many of his inaccurate shots in the back of the net, Portugal might win a game.
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