Such a scenario would be reminiscent of the previous edition of the competition when Portugal beat France in the final.
If we see a repeat, one marked difference that we hope to see is that this time around Portuguese talismanic striker Cristiano Ronaldo will be on the pitch at the end of the game, instead of cheering them on from the sidelines.
After leading his national team to the Euro 2016 final, Ronaldo was heartbroken in the final after being injured by a bad tackle less than 30 minutes into the match. Ronaldo, usually composed, broke down in tears as he was stretched off the pitch.
“The start of the 2016 UEFA European Football Championship was going well for me, but I was sad because I got injured [in the Final vs France]. At the end of the match, I was crying with happiness! The striker said in a media interview earlier this month.
RONALDO’S LAST DANCE
Five years later, Euro 2020 will likely be the 36-year-old’s last big international tournament and he will be eager to finish it off in style.
Where many footballers his age have already hung up or passed their prime, Ronaldo is still a force majeure to be reckoned with.
Currently plying his trade as a club footballer for Italy’s Juventus team, Ronaldo has just finished the season as the league’s top scorer with 29 goals – the second consecutive season he has won. In his last three seasons in the league, Ronaldo has also been named Italy’s best player twice.
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Despite his age, which means he could soon end his international career, Ronaldo clearly still has the firepower and motivation to set Euro 2020 on fire like he did in previous editions of the tournament.
Helping Portugal defend the trophy would be an excellent course for a brilliant footballing career and would be the perfect opportunity to announce his international retirement.
Certainly, the player widely regarded as the best of his generation would like to leave in style.
Reiterating how the trophy victory in 2016 was “an important moment” of pride and emotion for his country, Ronaldo confirmed that these feelings had not dulled his ambitions. “To win it again would be amazing,” he recently told media.
Arguably the Portuguese team have an even better squad than in 2016 as they ignored the previous one-man team label.
Diogo Jota, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias and Danilo Pereira all work for the best European clubs and will join Ronaldo to play an important role in this formation.
END ON A HIGH
Besides the collective national goal, Ronaldo also has some personal accolades to look for when Euro 2020 kicks off on Saturday (June 12).
In the last edition in 2016, Ronaldo became the tournament’s all-time top scorer with nine goals.
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His closest competitor who plays at Euro 2020 and could match or beat Ronaldo’s record is French striker Antoine Griezmann with six goals. Ronaldo will want to make sure he extends his lead and does everything to make this record untouchable.
In 2016, Ronaldo also became the first player to score in four successive European tournaments, showing how the competition has been a happy hunting ground for him.
With no one else coming close to matching that record yet, Ronaldo will be eager to play five straight competitions that he has found the net. Barring injuries, it’s hard to see why he wouldn’t.
Ronaldo also holds the record for most matches played in European tournaments with 21 matches and will therefore be keen to help his team go far in the tournament.
With so much personal and national fame at stake, it seems almost predestined for Ronaldo to make the Euro 2020 headlines – perhaps his last dance in a Portuguese jersey.
In the end, Ronaldo might miss the World Cup he has eluded so far – the one big accolade he hasn’t won – and could stay another year to win Portugal’s of the year next in Qatar.
But after being eliminated in the second round of the 2018 World Cup by Uruguay, even Ronaldo, with all his self-confidence and ambition, will recognize that the World Cup is a long blow for the Portuguese.
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The highest position the country has ever reached in the World Cup is the third and it was in 1966. In contrast, its record in the Euro is much more promising – in the five tournaments since 2000, Portugal has won once, reached the final twice. and was a four-time semi-finalist. Realistically, Ronaldo will know in which tournament he has the best shot.
THE FRENCH COULD THE CRANE FOR RONALDO
There is arguably an obstacle in Ronaldo’s path to fame – France.
Since they were beaten in the final of Euro 2016, the French have reorganized and rejuvenated.
The squad has since been built around a disciplined defensive unit led by the experienced Raphael Varane, a creative and dynamic midfielder comprised of Paul Pogba, N’golo Kante and Corentin Tolisso, and a quick and clinical attack with the world-class Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.
Even a French second division team has enough quality to be a key contender for the competition. No wonder they are favorites to win Euro 2020.
The French have already stormed to World Cup victory in 2018, have lost just one of their 10 Euro 2020 qualifiers and are undefeated in their last 18 games in total. They will arrive at Euro 2020 in majestic form and eager to avenge the loss of the previous final.
And they will have the chance to get revenge on Ronaldo’s side at the start of the tournament when France face Portugal in a group stage match on June 24. Portugal and France are pitted in the same group alongside Germany and Hungary in Group F at Euro 2020 – the tournament’s toughest group – could upend both sides’ plans.
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Traditionally a powerhouse of international football, Germany could be a party animal for those expecting a repeat of the 2016 final. But with coach Joachim Löw postponing a complete rejuvenation of an aging squad, he may be. be too premature for Germany to have a big impact in this tournament.
If Portugal and France finish the group stages in the top two places in their group, they could end up in the final to set up a tantalizing showdown.
However, with Euro 2020 taking a new approach to matches staged across the continent for the first time and coming in the wake of a hectic football schedule forced by a pandemic, fatigue could set in and upheaval should not be expected. be unexpected.
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Some teams can appear like black horses and surprise more than one. With more than 1,300 national selections among them, Belgium is the most experienced team of Euro 2020 and one that some might want to go all the way.
But with this ‘golden generation’ of Belgian football – Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen, Toby Alderweireld and Axel Witsel – already well into their thirties, it is unlikely that this group will be able to deliver a trophy now when they don’t. failed to live up to their collective potential at the peak of their careers.
Croatia, finalists of the previous World Cup, could go far in the competition just like Italy, although the transformation of the national team by Roberto Mancini is still underway. Including Holland, neither of these teams are likely to reach the final.
Many die-hard English and Spanish fans have announced that their teams are the favorites to win the tournament, but with the younger teams in the tournament, such calls can also be premature.
With Euro 2020 not coming at the right time for many top-level teams still on their transformation journey, Ronaldo could laugh for a last moment on the continent’s biggest sporting scene.
It seems the only thing that stands between it and a perfectly high-pitched swan song is the French.
Malminderjit Singh is the editor of CNA Digital News, commentary section.