Before last night’s semi-final between Portugal and Spain, Cristiano Ronaldo was widely tipped as the player capable of winning the game for his side.
Chosen as Bento’s fifth penalty taker, it was all set for the Real Madrid forward to seal his place among a long line of international greats after both sides failed to score in 120 minutes.
However, when Bruno Alves missed Portugal’s fourth spot-kick to give Spain a 3-2 lead, Cesc Fabregas stepped up to secure Spain’s place in the final leaving Ronaldo as a mere spectator.
The choice to leave their star striker until last came after Portugal had already mixed up the order of their takers. Alves approached the goal ready to take the third penalty but was caught by Nani who told his team-mate that the centre-back would go fourth.
Nani converted, but when Alves returned to penalty spot and crashed the ball against the crossbar. Fabregas clinched Spain’s victory and Ronaldo’s opportunity vanished.
This event has caused widespread debate: did Ronaldo choose to go last for his own personal glory? or, did Bento genuinely believe saving his best penalty taker till last would secure the win for his side?
Ronaldo is often criticized for his selfish attitude in the teams he has played for. This is one of the few negative aspects that can be drawn from his style of play. Last nights penalty fiasco could be considered a very strong example of this so-called ‘arrogance.’
There’s no doubt Ronaldo has a big influence on Portugal’s manager Paulo Bento, especially as captain. In my opinion he probably made the decision regarding which penalty to take. This surely suggests, the winger wanted the opportunity to score the winner, the penalty that would have sent his team into the final of Euro 2012.
After the match, the Portuguese head coach made the following statement:
“We had this plan and if it would have been 4-4 and he would taken the last penalty we would be talking in a different way.”
For me, the ‘we’ is referring to the manager and his captain, this suggests he had some impact on the decision.
However, there are often two sides to each story. Today, Ronaldo revealed that Portugal manager Paulo Bento asked him to take the fifth penalty against Spain.
‘I was going to take the fifth penalty but we missed two,’ Ronaldo said. ‘It was just a question of me speaking with the coach. He said to me: “Do you want to take the fifth one?” and I said “yes”.
‘Sometimes I take the first, the second or the third. I agreed to take the fifth.
As national captain and with the experience he has, I feel Ronaldo should have put himself forward for the first spot-kick. Unlike his manager, he has won major European trophies before, he therefore should have known exactly what to expect.
In my opinion, there’s no point leaving your best penalty takers till last, incase the chance to take one never arises. This is exactly what happened yesterday evening. Had Ronaldo, taken and scored the first chance, Portugal would have had the upperhand for the remainder of the shoot-out.
Obviously it can also be argued that the confusion between the third and fourth penalty is to blame. However, had the natural attackers (Portugal’s best penalty takers) stepped up to score first, there would have been no need for two central defenders on the list of first five takers. Bruno Alves looked incredibly nervous during both his first and second journey to the 18 yard box, he never really looked like scoring. Had Ronaldo taken a spot-kick in his place, Sunday’s final could have had a very different look to it.
Obviously everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I realise this is one of many views regarding last nights events. I for one am a great fan of Ronaldo, I hope him and his team mates will put this match behind them as soon as possible. I wish Portugal all the best at the 2014 Brazil World cup, Ronaldo certainly deserves a major international trophy, especially considering all his success at club level.
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