THE IMMEDIATE AND understandable reaction, of course, was to frame last night’s Euro 2012 quarter-final completely around Cristiano Ronaldo.
His manager Paulo Bento, however, sought to put the forward’s match-winning performance in the context of Portugal’s formation and general team approach. In truth, he did a good job of killing the hype.
“Cristiano Ronaldo played according to our tactical system. He has the capacity to play in the penalty area but also a little deeper – and this depends on the analysis of the player. For the first 20-25 minutes in the first half, it was very intense but at the same time we showed a great capacity to react to the Czechs. That’s why we qualified for the semi-final.”
Indeed, the main reaction came at half-time.
“The question then was to create more possibilities and chances for shots on goal. This game was very different from the one against Holland. As we expected, the Czechs played deeper. They pressed against us when we went out of our half but then, in the second half, we had more chances to create our game. I explained something at half-time about the offence. We had always been good in the defence, but we showed what was possible in the last 20 minutes of the first half – we wanted to show that in the second half and we knew if we did that we could create a lot of chances.”
Most of those chances, of course, went through Ronaldo. And Czech manager Michal Bilek had to admit that, whatever his defensive plans, they had little chance of working on the night.
“Ronaldo is a very good player. He doesn’t have any problems when he penetrates the defence.
“If we played the game again, I wouldn’t really change tactics. Playing against a side like Portugal, if you open the game they punish you, they know how to counterattack and it’s very hard to stop them. All teams who play Portugal show this. We faced opponents who were better than us. They showed it in the second half. We didn’t have the energy and we couldn’t react. We knew that we weren’t really on their level.”