The Portuguese ace was very critical of Messi's international success, but his stats so far in Poland and Ukraine show that he has been in disappointing form for his country
By Luis Mira & Oliver Platt
Having fired Real Madrid to La Liga glory with a staggering 46 league goals, Cristiano Ronaldo was expected to lead the line for Portugal at Euro 2012 and prove himself as the continent's finest player.But on the evidence of his two matches in Poland and Ukraine so far, Ronaldo is far from ready to replicate his impressive club form at international level. On Wednesday, Denmark's fans attempted to distract the Portuguese by chanting Lionel Messi's name throughout the match.
Questioned about the chants shortly after the last-gasp 3-2 victory, Ronaldo could not resist a swipe in the direction of the Argentine, reminding the Barcelona star of his national team's unsuccessful campaign at the Copa America in 2011.
|RONALDO AT EURO 2012 IN NUMBERS
|1||Ronaldo made just one long pass against Denmark. He had made none against Germany in Portugal's first match at the Euros.|
|2||The number of balls recovered by Ronaldo in Wednesday's contest against Denmark.|
|6||Ronaldo's work rate off the ball was much better against Germany, as he recovered six balls during that match.|
|25||Ronaldo made a total of 25 short passes against Denmark.|
|27||He had made two short passes more in his first match in Poland and Ukraine.|
|50||The Portuguese completed just half of his passes inside Denmark's half.|
|69||Against Denmark, just 69.2% of Ronaldo's total passes reached the destination.|
|72||Ronaldo's precision against Germany was much better: 72.5% of his passes inside the Germans' half were accurate.|
|81||The percentage of Ronaldo's completed passes against Germany.|
"You know where he was at this time [last year]? Do you know?" Ronaldo told reporters.
"He was being eliminated in the Copa America, in his own country. I think that is worse, no?"
Ronaldo's outburst was a manifestation of the mindset that holds him back more than anything else. His body language on the pitch tells a story of a player obsessed with his own performance and living up to the expectations and comparisons set out by others.
Messi established himself as the undisputed king of world football during three seasons of dazzling success with Barcelona. He did so by helping his side to a barrage of trophies and not by concerning himself with the lists and opinions of those watching him.
Ronaldo would be well advised to learn from his rival. The three points Portugal collected at the expense of Denmark have left them tied with Morten Olsen's side going into the last round of group matches.
The Seleccao will face the Netherlands, who must win to give themselves a chance of reaching the quarter-final. For Portugal, a draw may be enough if Germany can take care of the plucky Danes.
The statistics do not tell a flattering story of Ronaldo's performance in Lviv. Paulo Bento will need them to paint a more flattering picture if Portugal are to overcome the Oranje and progress to the knockout stage.
Simplifying his game would be a good first step. Ronaldo completed just half of his passes in the Denmark half at the Arena Lviv, a significant drop from the 72.5 per cent completion rate he registered against Germany.
His overall pass completion rate dipped from 81% against Joachim Low's team to just 69.2% against Denmark.
Ronaldo also seemed to neglect his defensive duties as Portugal's left winger. Having recovered six balls against Germany, the 27-year-old retrieved just two on Wednesday.
Most importantly, Ronaldo spurned two clear-cut chances to make Portugal's victory a more convincing one. It is time for the national team captain to stop thinking about his personal battle with Messi and start thinking about the battle he faces for his country.