22 Jun 2024, 16:38

Ronaldo deserves to play for Portugal, insists coach Martinez

DORTMUND, Germany, June 22, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Roberto Martinez insisted on Friday that Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to play for Portugal at Euro 2024 as the ageing icon prepares to face Turkey in a potentially crucial Group F clash.

Ronaldo is Portugal's all-time top scorer with 130 goals in a record 208 international appearances and is playing at his sixth European Championship at the age of 39.

He moved to Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia last year but is still a fixture in his national team despite no longer being the player he was, and Martinez said that he will play in Dortmund on Saturday.

"I think what's important is to understand what a player brings. For us, Cristiano brings the experience, brings the know-how, brings the goal-scoring opportunities, the movement in the box, the opportunity to open up space," Martinez told reporters.

Ronaldo played all of Portugal's opening 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Leipzig but did not score, with Francisco Conceicao getting the decisive late goal.

"If you want to analyse the stats in terms of the physical side, well you need to look at what he's done in the last 12 months," added Martinez, with Ronaldo having scored 44 goals in 45 games for his club over the past season.

He also scored seven times in seven appearances for Portugal between the season starting and the Euros beginning.

"Cristiano is in the national team of Portugal because he deserves to be, and all the physical stats just back that he can play every four days."

Portugal trail group leaders Turkey on goal difference in Group F but will qualify for the last 16 in Germany in first place if they win at the Westfalenstadion and Georgia do not beat the Czechs in Hamburg.

Turkey beat Georgia 3-1 in their opening match of the tournament and will again play in front of a massive and loud support in Dortmund.

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