It is fair to say that probably the most high profile player at the finals, Cristiano Ronaldo, has not had it all his own way. In the opening game, after Iceland got a creditable 1-1 draw with his team Portugal, the Real Madrid star went into a bit of a social media frenzy and unnecessarily bashed the Scandinavian minnows for being so defensive and celebrating their first ever goal and point in a major tournament.
In Portugal’s second game, Ronaldo missed a second-half penalty on the night he became his country’s record appearance holder to draw 0-0 with Austria. Ahead of the Hungary match, Ronaldo, perhaps feeling the strain of expectation, threw a reporter’s microphone in a river during a team stroll.
However, during the match, we saw glimpses of the person who has won the Ballon D’or on two occasions. Twice scoring to level for his team against Hungary, Ronaldo prevented Portugal from exiting the tournament at the earliest stage.
In their last game, Portugal and Croatia battled out a rather turgid affair without a single shot on goal until the 117th minute when a Ronaldo shot was pushed into the path of Ricardo Quaresma who broke the seemingly endless deadlock.
With the news that Lionel Messi is retiring from international football with Argentina after another final defeat, the path is laid clear for Ronaldo to assert some dominance against his rival. To do this, however, Ronaldo has to be seen to drive his team to victory in a major tournament, something he has so far struggled to do.
As for their opponents, Poland, they had an effective if not exciting route to the Quarter Finals. Poland also have their stuttering game-changer in Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski. However, Lewandowski has failed to find the net or deliver an assist in the competition in 643 minutes, since the first game of Euro 2012.
Poland’s defence has been pretty solid with Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri’s sublime scissors kick the only goal they conceded in their last game which ended 1-1, only for Poland to win on penalties. Earlier in the tournament they beat Ukraine and Northern Ireland 1-0 and drew with Germany 0-0. Much of this was done with first choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny injured with former Arsenal team-mate Lukasz Fabianski step impressively into the breach.
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