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Dhaka Tribune

Can CR7 lead Portugal to last 16?

Update : 25 Jun 2018, 08:41 PM

Current European champion Portugal, riding on their talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo, will target nothing but a win, and progression to the last 16 of the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, when they take on combative Iran in a crucial Group B encounter in Saransk Monday.

So far the Portuguese were able to show some organisation against 2010 world champion Spain, drawing the game 3-3 after a brilliant Ronaldo hat-trick.

But they failed to exhibit the same performance against Morocco with only a moment of brilliance from five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo rescuing the Portuguese.

Now both Spain and Portugal, not to forget Iran, are targeting the top two places in Group B. A win or a draw for both Portugal and Spain will be enough for the two European powerhouses to move through to the Round of 16. 

It has all been about Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo in the first two matches but this time around, his teammates should come forward and share the burden with the Portuguese sensation.

Ronaldo has fond memories against Iran, having scored against them from the penalty spot in the 2006 World Cup in Farnkfurt in what was his first goal in the greatest show on earth.

But it will not be easy this time when they face Iran, coached by former Portugal tactician Carlos Queiroz. Iran have registered the highest number of clearances, tackles and saves in this tournament thus far, with 107. 

Team Melli have also conceded just once in two games, and that too was an unfortunate goal against Spain.

Every time Ronaldo touched the ball against Morocco, the Moroccan fans booed him heavily. A similar situation awaits CR7 as the venue for the Iran game, Saransk, is already brimming with Iranian fans. Persian language can be heard everywhere right now in Saransk.

Portugal have not been in the best of form defensively in recent times as the 1-0 win over Morocco was their first clean sheet since the goalless draw against Brazil in 2010.

It is often said Ronaldo loves challenges. And more often than not, he has produced the goods when the going got tough. So, can Ronaldo inspire Portugal one more time and lead his country to the last 16? Only time will tell.

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