Martinez has no concerns over Ronaldo fatigue as Portugal face Turkiye test

By Sports Desk June 21, 2024

Roberto Martinez has no doubts about Cristiano Ronaldo's ability to play 90 minutes every few days at Euro 2024, as Portugal prepare to face Turkiye in their second game.

Portugal opened their Group F campaign with a nervy 2-1 win over Czechia on Tuesday, with Francisco Conceicao coming off the bench to net a 92nd-minute winner.

Ronaldo – the all-time leading scorer at the Euros with 14 goals – played all 90 minutes in the Selecao's opening match, becoming the first player to feature at six different editions of the tournament (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2024).

He endured a frustrating outing, failing to score from five shots worth 0.73 expected goals (xG) including missing one big chance, as defined by Opta.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has seen his place in the Portugal lineup debated since he was surprisingly dropped by Fernando Santos at the 2022 World Cup.

Martinez, however, feels the 39-year-old is more than capable of playing a full part, saying: "How many games did Cristiano play last season?

"There is no other player who has been at six European Championships. He brings experience, he offers us chances to score and opens up spaces. 

"We analyse the data and can see what he does. He's in the team because he deserves it. He can play every four days."

Some in the Portuguese media have questioned whether Martinez should field another striker alongside Ronaldo, but the former Belgium boss wants his team to attack as a collective. 

"He was the striker with the most shots on target, he was disciplined, he worked hard. He's an area player, he opens up spaces," Martinez said.

"The important thing for us is to arrive in the area. We are not a direct team. We want to get into the final third with six or seven players. We don't need another player close to Cristiano, we need six or seven."

Turkiye could call upon huge support at their opening match in Dortmund, as they overcame Georgia 3-1 in one of the games of the tournament to date. 

Martinez predicts a hostile reception for his team on Sunday, saying: "We expect the stadium to be loud. Turkey had a lot of support in the stands. 

"We also need to be ourselves, controlling the tempo and bringing width because that is what we do best. 

"Turkey showed they can defend but their focus is always to attack. They are aggressive, they have character and attitude. There are no secrets."

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