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Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo claims Italy are among Euro 2016 favourites

12:20 IST 09/06/2016
Cristiano Ronaldo - cropped
Antonio Conte's charges are one of the leading contenders to go all in the way at this summer's tournament in France, according to the Portugal and Real Madrid superstar

Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has surprisingly named Italy as one of the favourites to win Euro 2016.

The Azzurri have been written off in many quarters ahead of this summer's tournament in France due to a perceived lack of star quality at Antonio Conte's disposal.

Italy are heading into Euro 2016 without the likes of influential midfield duo Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio.

However, Ronaldo believes Italy - who were unbeaten in qualifying for the Euros - are one of the leading contenders, alongside France, Germany and Spain.

"As hosts, France has a strong team to go the distance," he told the Times of India.

"Then we have the world champions Germany. They are always favoured and this time they are coming to the tournament stronger. In the last two Euros, they played well, reached the final in 2008 and semi-finals in 2012. 

"And then, how can you forget Italy? And of course Spain... they are the reigning Euro champions."

Portugal have been drawn in Group F of the competition alongside Iceland, Austria and Hungary. 

While some consider Fernando Santos' side to have received a favourable route to the knockout stages, Ronaldo was quick to offer a reminder of the quality of Portugal's opponents.

"Opinions will always be there," he said.

"You have to play the game [and] fight it out on the ground for 90 minutes to earn a win. Austria and Hungary are strong teams. They can surprise many. 

"Iceland came to the Euros from the same group from where the Netherlands were eliminated. They were second behind the leaders Czech Republic in the qualifiers. The Netherlands were the fourth in the same group. Need we say more about Iceland's credentials?"