No pre-Euros promises from Ronaldo
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Cristiano Ronaldo says holders Portugal do not fear anybody as they prepare for the ‘Group of Death’ at Euro 2020.
The Selecao broke French hearts five years ago by winning the final in Paris, former Swansea man Eder scoring the only goal in extra-time, but largely did so without Ronaldo, who limped off after 25 minutes with a knee injury.
Fernando Santos’ side dug in that evening at the Stade de France, providing another gritty performance having won only one of their six matches in the tournament within 90 minutes.
They are expected to require similar fortitude in the 2020 edition, having been drawn alongside France, Germany and underdogs Hungary in Group F.
Some of the jeopardy is, though, taken away by the possibility of three teams graduating to the last-16, as was the case for Portugal in 2016 after drawing all three of their pool matches.
Of course, topping the group could provide a more favourable route through the knockout rounds and every point could count.
However, with all the permutations, Ronaldo is declining the opportunity to make any promises ahead of the tournament’s opening fixture on Friday in Rome.
The 36-year-old, who is set to feature in his fifth Euros, will lead his side out against Hungary in Budapest on Sunday.
A winning start against the Magyars would set the champions up nicely and Ronaldo says his side are confident they can defend their title, but is refusing to look too far ahead.
“These are the opponents we have been drawn to play against. We respect all the teams. There are no easy games,” Ronaldo told the Portuguese federation’s magazine ‘360.’
“I am at this Euros as if it were the first. I feel as motivated or even more motivated than I was in 2004 at my first European Championship.
“We are the defending champions and we are again among the contenders for the trophy. There is no point in promising titles or making predictions. What I can promise is that we will go into every game to win.”
After their opening game against Hungary at the Puskas Arena, Portugal then travel to Munich to face Germany on June 19.
They then head back east to the Hungarian capital to round off their pool campaign against the world champions, France, on June 23.
Juventus forward Ronaldo is expected to lead the line for a talented Portuguese side, with Liverpool’s Diogo Jota and Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva candidates to start either side of him in a three-man front-line.
Santos’ squad is arguably stronger than it was five years ago in France, with City’s Ruben Dias providing extra physicality at the back and Manchester United’s Bruno Fernades adding variation from set-pieces.