Cristiano Ronaldo has gone from scapegoat to hero in just 180 short minutes. After being lambasted by the media over his lack of touch in the goal area against Denmark, Ronaldo displayed excellence unseen in major international tournaments when he netted twice (and should have more) against the Netherlands.
Now, it’s time for Ronaldo to continue his ascension.
Portugal will take on the Czech Republic in the first semifinal matchup of Euro 2012, and Portugal certainly has to be the favorite here. After being picked by many (but not this guy) to be eliminated in the group state, the Portuguese displayed a fine effort in defeating Denmark and Holland to secure their spot in the knockout stage. Czech, on the other hand, were beaten badly by Russia, but rebounded with wins against Greece and Poland.
Now, they have their sites set on another upset, but can they?
Ronaldo will certainly be the focal point defensively for Czech Republic, but he must find a way to get his fellow countrymen involved. He will be marked by Czech back Theodor Gebre Selassie who has been in top form so far for this tournament, but Ronaldo has the quality to do what he has to on the pitch.
Portugal has hit the frame four times so far in Euro 2012, and only three teams have hit it five times. They have the offensive capabilities to break this game open and will be looking to their leader, Ronaldo, to get them going early.
It is time for Ronaldo to stake his claim as one of the best international footballers on the planet. We have not seen him in major tournaments where he usually disappears in games, but this could be the year that it finally all goes right for him. It is there for the taking; now Ronaldo must do it.
As thrilling as it would be for the Czech’s to send Ronaldo and Portugal home, I do not see it happening. Instead, I see a rematch with Germany looming on the horizon.