Euro 2016 Group F: Rocked Ronaldo seeks revenge after goalless Iceland game
Robbie Purves | June 15, 2016
Portugal v Austria
- Euro 2016 Group F
- Saturday, June 18th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST
- Parc des Princes, Paris
- Live on BBC One
Portugal to share spoils in Paris
Portugal and Austria have shared the spoils five times in the last 10 clashes between the two nations.
Three of the previous four have also been draws, and Coral have them 5/2 to repeat history by doing so again in this second group game. On top of that, they all ended 1-1 – so the sides are 11/2 to emulate this scoreline on Saturday.
Both nations come into the crunch clash on the back of disappointing Euro 2016 curtain raisers. Portugal were held to a famous draw by Iceland, while Austria were totally outplayed by Hungary.
The Portuguese were subject to a colossal draw that saw the Atlantic island minnows on cloud nine, after Iceland’s industrious midfielder Birkir Bjarnason levelled for the Scandinavians in St-Etienne.
Meanwhile, Austria were more lame ducks than dark horses against Hungary. Many tipped the Austrians as outsiders to lift the trophy in July, but will now be licking their wounds after an embarrassing 2-0 defeat in which they were utterly outclassed. Das Team were ranked at an all-time low of 105th in the world after their only other appearance at the European Championship, the one they co-hosted with Switzerland in 2008. They rose as high as 10th following an unbeaten qualifying campaign but capitulated against the Magical Magyars.
Rocked Ronald out for revenge
Real Madrid maestro Cristiano Ronaldo had ten shots on goal in St-Etienne, but failed at his first attempt to become the first man to score in four European Championships as he was frustrated by Iceland’s dogged defence and a great display from Hannes Halldorsson.
Speaking after the game, the Portugal captain said: “Iceland only tried to defend… they had two chances and then did not try to score,” apart from the chance they converted of course. “They celebrated like they had won the Euro cup or something. That’s a small mentality.”
However, Ronaldo is fresh off the back of lifting his third Champions League trophy and will look to build upon his incredible 51 goal season during his nations second game by finding the net.
The Austrians will be without solid centre back Aleksandar Dragovic, after being dismissed in his opening game – Ronaldo is 5/2 to take advantage of this by netting first.
However, don’t expect Austria to roll over. The team has to finish in the first two spots, or else they could end up facing Spain if they are third which could result in early flight home, as the Spaniards look to collect third consecutive European Championship.
Austria were earmarked as the dark horse for a reason. Among their ranks you can find Bayern Munich’s David Alaba who is an world class talent at both left back and centre midfield. However, one man cannot make a team and, due to their lack of attacking prowess, may not be able to take advantage of Portugal’s poor defence.
The Portuguese defence is very weak and they continue to rely heavily on veteran centre back Ricardo Carvalho to keep the opposition at bay. Lack of experience among many squad members could also hamper the Navigators.
Pressure on Portugal
Portugal, like England, are perennial underachievers when it comes to international tournaments and fail to deliver when it truly matters. After their showing against Iceland, evidence suggests the trend will continue. They failed to win on home soil at Euro 2004, reached the quarters in 2008 and the semis in 2012.
Many feel that this is Ronaldo’s last chance to stake his claim as the greatest of all time by winning an international tournament. The three-time Ballon d’Or winner, even at 31, remains one of the best players in the world, but is under immense pressure to drag his nation through the group.
However, with Renato Sanches, Andre Gomes, Joao Mario and William Carvalho glittering their squad, they have a host of young players who can impress and step up to help the main man. With their best squad in years, Portugal need to take advantage of a Ronaldo teetering on the brink of decline.
What does Coral football ambassador Alan Shearer think ahead of Portugal’s chances against Austria? Listen to his thoughts below.