Speaking to the press in the buildup to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo was in the headlines for a whole host of reasons. Primarily, his stunning interview with Piers Morgan and subsequent release from Manchester United was front-page news the world over. But it’s his statements surrounding Euro 2024 that we want to focus on. Speaking at the 2022 Gala Quinas de Ouro prior to the recent showdown in Qatar, Ronaldo said: “My path in the national team is not over. I will be at the World Cup, and I want to be at the European [Championship in 2024].” Oddschecker, which compares football odds and free offers, currently makes hosts Germany the favourite to lift the trophy there.
Italy, of course, are the reigning European Champions. They defeated England on penalties at Wembley at the most recent European Championships, which were pushed back from 2020 to 2021 due to global events. Portugal disappointed at that tournament. They finished third in Group F behind France and Germany, and eventually exited at the round of sixteen following a 1-0 defeat to Belgium.
At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they did perform better. They topped Group G ahead of South Korea, Uruguay, and Ghana, before defeating Switzerland in the second round. They were beaten in the quarterfinals by underdogs Morocco, who became the first African nation to reach the semifinals of a World Cup with the victory.
Is Portugal Better Off Without Ronaldo?
But there can be no denying that Portugal looked like a better team without their talisman, just as was the case with Manchester United prior to Ronaldo’s departure from Old Trafford. The Seleção stumbled their way through the group stages, and CR7 was then dropped for the second-round clash with the Swiss. Benfica striker Gonçalo Ramos took Ronaldo’s place in the round of sixteen tie, and proceeded to bag four goals as his side announced themselves genuine contenders.
Ronaldo once again missed out on the starting eleven for the clash against Morocco in the last eight; however, he was tasked with coming off the bench and finding an equaliser in the second half. It was a task that the five-time Balon d’Or winner failed to complete.
There is no doubt that Ronaldo’s career at the top will be extended thanks to his move to Saudi Arabia. The former Real Madrid icon is playing against much lesser opposition than he was in Europe on a weekly basis. But with the national team looking better without him at the recent World Cup, should Ronaldo be involved at Euro 2024, even if he is available? That’s ultimately a decision for new manager Roberto Martinez to make.