Ronaldo: Ballon d'Or? I don't think about individual prizes

By Sports Desk September 10, 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo said he does not live thinking about individual prizes after being asked about the Ballon d'Or following his stunning four-goal haul for Portugal in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Ronaldo made history as his four goals led European champions Portugal to a 5-1 rout of Lithuania in Tuesday's Group B clash in Vilnius.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner became the all-time leading scorer in European Championship qualifiers after improving his tally to 25 goals, surpassing Robbie Keane.

Juventus superstar Ronaldo also took his international record to 93 goals after scoring his eighth hat-trick for Fernando Santos' Portugal.

Ronaldo – who is on the final shortlist for FIFA's The Best award – was asked about his chances of winning a sixth Ballon d'Or and the 34-year-old said: "As I always say, I don't live thinking about individual prizes.

"This is a consequence of what we collectively won. But it's good, I won't lie. The important thing was to help the team.

"I scored a goal against Serbia and four here and I'm very happy We have to dismiss this moment and what I want most is to continue like this."

Ronaldo scored 21 Serie A goals last season – and 28 in all competitions – as Juventus won an eighth consecutive Scudetto.

This season, Ronaldo has already scored once for Juventus, who are level on points with Inter and Torino atop the Serie A table.

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  • Neves expecting 'Ronaldo we always see' for Portugal despite Juve difficulty Neves expecting 'Ronaldo we always see' for Portugal despite Juve difficulty

    Ruben Neves is not concerned about Cristiano Ronaldo's state of mind for Portugal despite a difficult week at club level with Juventus.

    Ronaldo, 34, was substituted in each of Juve's past two matches before the international break and is reported to have left the stadium early when hooked in Sunday's 1-0 win over AC Milan.

    Paulo Dybala came on for the Portugal talisman against Milan and went on to score the winner, with Ronaldo visibly annoyed as he headed straight down the tunnel when replaced by the Argentina international.

    Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri put Ronaldo's withdrawals down to a bruised knee, though the forward still received criticism for his reaction.

    Wojciech Szczesny said Ronaldo's anger was understandable, but he appears to have mellowed since linking up with Portugal.

    Speaking ahead of Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Lithuania, Neves said: "Cristiano is fine, had a great training session, as always, and he has a great motivation for the match.

    "He's fully prepared for the match. I guess he has no idea of what people are talking about.

    "He had a fine training session, as I've already said, so I guess we can expect the Ronaldo we always see in the game tomorrow."

    Wolves midfielder Neves has continued to impress this season after catching the eye in the Premier League last term, but it was put to him that he seems more reserved when wearing a Portugal jersey.

    He is convinced that is a misconception, however, adamant he feels just as productive for the Selecao as he does for Wolves.

    "No, no," Neves said. "We have lots of matches with Wolves. If we compare my number of matches and goals for Wolves and the same for Portugal, the difference won't be big.

    "So, I'm focused on helping my national team all the times I'm called up and don't have anything more to say about this."

  • I'd imagine he's not enthusiastic about me – Southgate hopeful time heals Sterling relationship I'd imagine he's not enthusiastic about me – Southgate hopeful time heals Sterling relationship

    Gareth Southgate can understand if Raheem Sterling is not "hugely enthusiastic" about him after dropping the Manchester City star for his part in an altercation with Joe Gomez, but is hopeful time heals any ill-feeling.  

    England confirmed on Monday Sterling would not to be considered for selection when Montenegro visit this Thursday following a bust-up with Gomez.

    The pair clashed during Sunday's Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool and were involved in an incident in a private area of England's St George's Park training base.

    Details appeared in the media before England released a statement to confirm a row had taken place and that Sterling had been dropped as a consequence. 

    Some former players have suggested Southgate had been too heavy-handed in his approach and the manager accepts Sterling may not be keen on him for the time being.

    "Well, I wouldn’t imagine that he's hugely enthusiastic [about Southgate], but I can understand that," he told reporters on Wednesday.

    "In the end, he's with the group, that's the most important thing. He's a massive part of what we do – has been, will be.

    "He's with us for the game, he's back with the team on the training pitch enjoying his football. [He] trained superbly well, as he always does. So, for me, the thing is finished.

    "I know, as a player, my relationship with my managers and how I felt about them changed day to day, and there were many occasions when I had the hump with them, usually when I wasn’t in the team.

    "So, I understand that, I hope that time takes its course on those things. As a manager, you hope that you bring lots of good moments for players.

    "There are those occasions where you give them their debut, you give them the chance to play, but there are inevitably occasions when you don't start them, where you have to take them off, and that will always be the landscape.

    "I hope that all of my players know that, first and foremost, I care about them, that I want to be fair with them, that I want to do what's right for all of them, and that they can lean on me when they need me.

    "And I also accept that, at times, they're not going to be bouncing with joy when they see my face walking through the meal room.

    "So, that is part and parcel of being a manager, and if you're not up for that challenge, then [it's] better to go and do something else."

    The Sterling and Gomez controversy comes just before a vital couple of matches, with England still to secure their place at Euro 2020.

    Despite the poor timing of such a situation, Southgate insists life is rarely simple with England.

    When asked if the past week had been the trickiest as England boss, Southgate said: "Most of them are pretty difficult weeks.

    "I don't remember many… I don't know what a normal week with England would be, frankly. So, the key is always to go and win the football matches and that's where my focus has been for the last 48 hours and for the three weeks before that.

    "So, any manager of any big club or big nation knows that all of those situations are difficult. We're under huge scrutiny for performance and everything else, so I haven't viewed this as any more or less difficult than anything else."

  • We share tables and jokes! – Definitely no England cliques, says Maguire We share tables and jokes! – Definitely no England cliques, says Maguire

    Harry Maguire insists there are "definitely no cliques" in the England squad despite the altercation between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez this week.

    Sterling has been dropped for Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley after confronting England team-mate Gomez on Monday.

    The two players had clashed the previous day, as Sterling's Manchester City were beaten 3-1 by Gomez and Liverpool, the Premier League leaders and the winger's former club.

    Yet Manchester United defender Maguire is confident issues between players from rival clubs will not continue to dog England as they reportedly have in the past.

    Asked at a pre-match news conference if there were any club cliques in the squad, Maguire replied: "No, everybody mixes.

    "I think you've seen how good the unity in the squad is over the last couple of years. It's been a good two years and the group has grown together. We continue to keep on growing and that's really important.

    "No, definitely no cliques. We all share tables and share jokes and laughs together."

    England need just a point against Montenegro to qualify for the finals, where they would play a number of matches at their own Wembley home.

    Maguire is hopeful, should the Three Lions' secure their progress, the home crowd can be a big factor next year.

    "It would be really special to play in a major tournament and walking out at Wembley would be something that you dream of," he said. "People say it would give us a little advantage as well.

    "We know that the crowd get right behind us at Wembley and the support over the last few years – especially since I've been playing – has been unbelievable.

    "It's a big game [against Montenegro] and one that we're all looking forward to and we feel prepared for."

    England's hopes at the Euros would also depend on improved defensive showings, though, with a number of individual mistakes hampering their qualification campaign so far.

    Maguire added: "Obviously, we're coming off the back of a clean sheet [in a 6-0 win in Bulgaria], but we've conceded a few sloppy goals recently. I'm not proud of it and we're working hard on the training pitch to make that better.

    "We know the firepower we have in our squad. We've got to a stage now where we're scoring near enough in every game, and we're creating problems for other people's defences.

    "So my job and I'm sure all the rest of the defenders and the keepers as a group, we'll try to shut the shop up and start keeping clean sheets a lot more regularly."

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