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.
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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