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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Euro 2024: Cristiano Ronaldo eyes record sixth Euro appearance as Portugal opens against Czechs

oth teams reached the knockout stage of Euro 2020, with defending champion Portugal losing to Belgium in the round of 16 while the Czechs lost in the quarterfinals to Denmark

AP Leipzig (Germany) Published 18.06.24, 04:04 PM
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo File Photo: AP/PTI

Cristiano Ronaldo can become the first player to feature at six European Championships when Portugal opens its Euro 2024 campaign against the Czech Republic. But Ronaldo is not the only danger for the Czechs, who are making their eight successive appearance. Kickoff is at 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) on Tuesday. Here's what to know about the match:

Match facts— This will be the fourth meeting between the countries at the tournament. The Czechs won the first 1-0 in 1996, and Portugal won in 2008 and 2012. Portugal has won the last four meetings between the teams, without conceding in the last three.

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— Both teams reached the knockout stage of Euro 2020, with defending champion Portugal losing to Belgium in the round of 16 while the Czechs lost in the quarterfinals to Denmark.

— While Portugal won Euro 2016, the Czechs need to go back to 1976 for their triumph when the country was still part of Czechoslovakia. Antonín Panenka scored the winning penalty in the shootout against West Germany by softly dinking the ball through the middle while the goalkeeper dived to the side. Other players like Spain's Sergio Ramos have since tried their luck scoring “Panenka” penalties.

— Spanish coach Roberto Martínez was in charge of the Belgium team that knocked Portugal out of the last edition. He's now the Portugal coach, and his team eased through qualifying for Euro 2024 as the only team to win every game. Martínez' side scored 36 goals and conceded only two as it qualified with three matches to spare.

— Even without Ronaldo, Portugal boasts a formidable attacking lineup with Barcelona's João Félix, Paris Saint-Germain's Gonçalo Ramos and Milan's Rafael Leão all providing options for Bruno Fernandes in midfield.

— But it's clear Ronaldo is still the main attraction for fans. Police had to intervene to remove some enamored supporters from Portugal's open training session in Gütersloh on Saturday when they ran onto the field to take selfies with the Portugal star. Some 8,000 fans attended the training session.

— Turkey and Georgia are the other teams in Group F. They meet earlier Tuesday in Dortmund.

Team news— Neither team had any major injury worries before Monday's final news conferences.

By the numbers— Ronaldo, who made his tournament debut at Euro 2004 where Portugal reached the final, already has the records for the most goals (14) and appearances (25) at the tournament. The 39-year-old forward showed he's not finished yet by scoring two goals as Portugal warmed up with a 3-0 win over Ireland.

— Ronaldo bagged five goals at Euro 2020, the same as Czech striker Patrik Schick to share the top-scorer award. Schick is again the main target for the Czech team and arrives at the tournament full of confidence after helping Bayer Leverkusen win the Bundesliga.

What they're saying“Ronaldo always thinks in big proportions, and we want to support him because he is our captain. He's the one who has won the most among us.” – Portugal central defender Diogo Dalot.

“I believe we all have the highest ambitions and that's clear to see. We could be knocked out in the group stage, or we could win it. These are the two possible options.” – Czech Republic coach Ivan Hašek

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