Considered by many to be the world's second best player behind the brilliant Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest poster boys at the European Championships. Yet after a lackluster performance in Portugal's 0-1 opening loss to Germany - one that was slammed by the home media - Portugal supporters were left waiting for something special from their skipper against the Danes.
Out of the shadow of Messi but still beneath the weight of a nation, Ronaldo turned in a woeful display on Wednesday in the 3-2 win against Denmark, missing two sitters that almost cost his side dearly. The performance of Real Madrid forward and scorer of 46 goals in La Liga last season has yet again opened up the debate: do today's multimillionaire footballers care more about their clubs than countries?
Ronaldo, 2008's world footballer of the year, has scored for Real Madrid almost at will, with a record of nearly a goal a game since he moved to Spain in 2009 from Manchester United. But here he was in a must-win game for Portugal, the game's costliest player, with his countrymen glued to their television sets back home, and he comes up with another lackluster performance.
Thankfully, the substitute Silvestre Varela spared Portugal blushes by firing home an 87th-minute winner after Denmark had recovered from two goals down to make it 2-2 through a Nicklas Bendtner double.
In two instances, Ronaldo was put clean through on goal and he failed to net even once. Though the first one was saved by the goalkeeper, the former Manchester United winger should have done better. In the second instance, with no defenders within 20 yards of him and a goalkeeper that was out of position, Ronaldo failed to hit the target from less than ten yards. He rushed his opportunity and shot the ball about three yards wide to the right of the post, when he could have easily chipped the ball over the goalie or could have moved around the keeper and deposit home an easy chance.
Today was the biggest game of Euro 2012 for Ronaldo, but he fell incredibly short of matching the level of form that saw him score a whopping 60 goals for Madrid and even scoring from improbable range. It has been more than eight years since he produced heroics for his national team.
Portugal take on Netherlands next and it's high time Ronaldo showed the world that he can deliver when his country needs him most. Otherwise in future he will be remembered as a footballer who was brilliant at the club level but will never be compared to the likes of Pele, Maradona, Ronaldo (Brazilian one) and Zinedine Zidane who were phenomenal for both country as well as clubs.