European Football Championship 2008 - The main man?
Had the Castrol Performance Index been up and running for Euro 2004, Ronaldo would have starred prominently. He scored twice – once in the semi-final – and was instrumental as the home nation reached the final. And if the CPI analysed Europe’s domestic leagues, Ronaldo would be streets ahead; the 23-year-old had 40 goals in 44 games (in all competitions), breaking George Best’s record of 32 goals by a winger (season 1967/68) and Denis Law’s record of 30 goals from midfield (1963/64). And such form gives credence to last week’s poll, in which 54 per cent of users thought he would top-score this summer.
Quality and quantity
Forty goals from midfield is an astonishing return, but it’s the quality of Ronaldo’s all-round game, as much as his goals, that make his form so impressive. He scores with his left foot as well as his right, and with his head, and assists as often as he finds the net himself.
Against Portsmouth in January he conjured up a free-kick (described by his manager Sir Alex Ferguson as the best free-kick he’d ever seen) which rose over the wall, dipped and swerved before accelerating into the corner. “No goalkeeper in the world would have stopped it,” insisted Ferguson – it would have been a huge points earner in the CPI.
Ronaldo’s absence in the CPI might seem an anomaly, but it stems from the index only analysing a player’s last seven games. Of the winger’s eight goals in European Championship qualifying (the next highest Portuguese player scored three) just two came in his last seven games, against Poland and Kazakhstan.
Given that Switzerland shipped four goals against Germany last month, Ronaldo might well be eyeing that game – Portugal’s final group fixture – with goals in mind. That would see him overhaul the four other Portuguese players currently ahead of him – namely Ricardo Quaresma (1,254 points), Maniche (1,171), Miguel (689), and Ricardo Carvalho (625).
Ronaldo has been criticised for going missing in big games, and all but one his qualifying goals were against weaker opposition – Selecção das Quinas’ first seven qualifiers saw him score against Azerbaijan (twice), Belgium (twice), and Kazakhstan. But domestically he scored three goals against United’s main rivals this season, plus seven in Europe including a crucial, headed goal in Rome in the quarter-finals.
One senses with the year that he’s had, he’s poised to make up for 2004 and provide a perfect finish to the perfect season…
For more news on the European Football Championship 2008 please visit http://www.castrolindex.com
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