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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 July 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo back in action as Portugal and Turkey look for second straight win at Euro 2024

Ronaldo lost his place in the Portugal team at the World Cup in 2022 but he looks to be as guaranteed a starter as ever under Roberto Martinez, who took over as coach after the tournament in Qatar

AP/PTI Dortmund Published 22.06.24, 10:47 AM
Cristiano Ronaldo (right), in this picture shared by the Portugal captain on X, laughs with long-time teammate Pepe during a training session on Thursday

Cristiano Ronaldo (right), in this picture shared by the Portugal captain on X, laughs with long-time teammate Pepe during a training session on Thursday X

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal play Turkey in their second group game at the European Championship. Both countries opened Group F play with a win, with Portugal beating the Czech Republic 2-1 and Turkey defeating Georgia 3-1.

The 39-year-old Ronaldo lost his place in the Portugal team at the World Cup in 2022 but he looks to be as guaranteed a starter as ever under Roberto Martinez, who took over as coach after the tournament in Qatar. Ronaldo is the captain and played the full game against the Czechs, though didn’t score.

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Portugal encountered a Czech Republic team which sat back and defended in numbers in Leipzig. Turkey are unlikely to do that, given their strength in attack, so expect Ronaldo and company to have more space going forward.

Arda Guler is the one to watch for Turkey. The 19-year-old attacking midfielder from Real Madrid scored one of the goals of the tournament against Georgia — a long-range screamer into the top corner — to take Ronaldo’s record as the youngest debut scorer at a European Championship.

Turkey are playing a second straight game at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. Their fans turned the stadium into a sea of red against Georgia and look sure to outnumber the Portuguese support.

Portugal or Turkey will guarantee a first-place finish in the group with a win in Dortmund and if Georgia-Czech Republic is a draw in Hamburg earlier on Saturday.

Portugal’s entire 26-man squad has been in training so Martinez again has some tough decisions to make, given the strength in depth of the group. Joao Palhinha is pushing for a return as the anchorman in midfield.

Ronaldo will look to add to his record 14 goals in European Championships. That is five more than his nearest rival — Michel Platini, whose nine goals all came in the same tournament (1984). It will also be Ronaldo’s record-extending 27th appearance at the Euros.

Portugal won all 10 of their qualifying games for Euro 2024 and then their opening group game.

The team has also beaten Turkey in each of their last six competitive matches, and in all three of their meetings at the Euros.

By starting against the Czechs, Portugal defender Pepe became — at 41 years and 113 days — the oldest player to feature in a European Championship.

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