Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have bottled Euro 2016 so far

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As the Euro 2016 group stage draws to a close this evening, one of the more prevalent questions that remains is: could Euro 2016 bid farewell to both Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

The two superstars have disappointed so far in a tournament that they were widely expected to light-up.

Ronaldo has certainly not been anonymous, but his influence on the tournament has been both controversial and poor.


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In Portugal’s first group game, a 1-1 draw with first-time attendees Iceland, the 31-year-old cut a frustrated figure throughout the game.

At the final whistle, Ronaldo’s frustration was on display for all to see as he walked off the pitch without shaking hands with the overjoyed Icelandic players and appearing to refuse Aron Gunnarsson’s request to swap shirts.

As he faced questions from the media immediately after the game, Ronaldo was quoted as saying that Iceland had "…celebrate[d] like they had won the Euros. This, in my opinion, shows a small mentality. They are not going to do anything in this competition."

A barrage of criticism followed from fans and pundits for his words and actions but Ronaldo, as unfazed as ever, stepped up to face Austria and, once more, he was heavily involved in the game, this time for the right reasons, he just didn’t get the desired results.

Aside from having two of his efforts expertly saved by the Austrian goalkeeper, Robert Almer, Ronaldo had the perfect opportunity to silence his critics and announce his true arrival in France from the penalty-spot.

As he prepared to take the penalty, there were very few watching who would have bet against him scoring, but that is precisely what he did.

Dragging his penalty kick low to the left, the Real Madrid galactico looked stunned as the ball cannoned off the post before being skied by teammate Andre Gomes on the rebound.

In Group E, arguably Euro 2016’s group of death, many were expecting to see something special from the great Zlatan, in what has now been confirmed to be his international swansong.

The giant Swede has, unlike Ronaldo, been largely anonymous in both of Sweden’s group games so far, with his cross that was headed into his own goal by the Republic of Ireland defender, Ciaran Clark in a game that ended 1-1, being his only significant contribution.

Italy nullified the threat posed by Ibrahimovic in what was, arguably, the worst game of the tournament so far as the Italians secured their place in the last 16 with a 1-0 victory.

Ibrahimović is playing in a Sweden side that has failed to turn up to the tournament and is a strong contender to win the trophy for the worst team of the tournament, with the Nordic country so far failing to register a single shot on target in two games.

In spite of this, everyone, including Zlatan himself, expected, before the tournament, to see more from the 35-year-old who has been in prolific form for PSG this season and who is widely expected to join Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford after the Euros.

Portugal and Sweden are footballing nations who are currently heavily reliant upon one world-class player in their squad.

So far, both Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic have failed to live up to the weight of expectation placed upon them and both players have one final chance to shine in the group stages.

Portugal are less likely to be sent home as they prepare to face Hungary, but if they lose (which is not improbable given both teams' contrasting form) they will be eliminated even if they finish in third place.

Sweden face the daunting prospect of being completely out of form and facing an in-form and highly rated Belgium side who easily dispatched Ireland 3-0 most recently.

The game against Belgium is a must win for the Swedes to all-but guarantee progression to the latter stages and the odds are stacked against them.

Can Zlatan and Ronaldo both produce the kind of performance that we have all seen and that we all expect of them to help their nations out of trouble, or will Euro 2016 wave goodbye to two of the biggest names at this year’s tournament?

Wednesday's footballing schedule certainly promises to be another enthralling and unmissable spectacle.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Euro 2016
Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal National Football Team

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