Sunil Chhetri drops sizzling Cristiano Ronaldo prediction in 'playing XI' remark for Portugal’s UEFA Euro 2024 opener | Football News - Hindustan Times

Sunil Chhetri drops sizzling Cristiano Ronaldo prediction in 'playing XI' remark for Portugal’s UEFA Euro 2024 opener

ByNeelav Chakravarti
Jun 18, 2024 01:36 PM IST

Sunil Chhetri made a huge Cristiano Ronaldo prediction ahead of Portugal's UEFA Euro 2024 opener vs Czech Republic.

Since the UEFA Euro 2024 began on June 15 in Munich, there have been goals galore. We saw some stunning goals in the opener as hosts Germany hammered Scotland 5-1 in a Group A encounter. Then, Spain also thrashed Croatia 3-0 in style. There were also some surprises as Belgium crashed into a shock 0-1 defeat against Slovakia on Monday.

Sunil Chhetri made a Cristiano Ronaldo prediction.
Sunil Chhetri made a Cristiano Ronaldo prediction.

On Wednesday, the focus will shift to Leipzig as Portugal take on Czech Republic in their Group F opener. All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, who will look to silence his critics. There have been question marks over the 39-year-old's impact in the national setup, which was highlighted during Portugal's 2022 World Cup campaign.

Also Read | Will the fading rivalry with Messi bring out the best in Ronaldo at Euro 2024?

After failing to have an impact in the group stage, Ronaldo was benched for Portugal's Round of 16 match against Switzerland. His replacement, Goncalo Ramos, justified the decision with a sensational hat-trick on his first World Cup start. Ramos was once again in the playing XI for the quarter-finals against Morocco but failed to replicate his Swiss blitz. Morocco ended up winning 1-0 and Ronaldo came off the bench in the second-half, but failed to find an equaliser.

Sunil Chhetri on Cristiano Ronaldo

So when recently retired former India captain Sunil Chhetri, an expert panellist on Sony Sports Network's studio show Football Extraa for UEFA Euro 2024, was asked if Ronaldo should be included in the playing XI for Portugal's opener, he had a straightforward response.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Chhetri said, "I don't want to say that, you never know with him. After eight years, we might talk about his contribution to the next Euros. I would want to see him in the first XI for Portugal and the technical reason for that is they are quite a strong side, they can keep the ball. They are quite sorted in terms of the way they want to play."

"I am pretty sure, little bit of defensive load, the other players can take off Ronaldo because they know half a chance is a goal with him on the pitch. So I think one of the main reasons why Ronaldo is there and the coach wants him is because of his goals. Of course, his experience, his leadership quality. But on the pitch, it is his goals. Any half a chance, whether it is a toe-poke, whether it is a smasher, whether it is a long ranger, whether it is outside or inside the box, free kicks, headers, the team knows and the coach knows that he is lethal and that's the reason why I would love to see him in the playing XI.

“He might not be the same as far as defensive duties are concerned as what a 10-year back Ronaldo was. But being Portugal, where they are so sorted in all the other departments, I am pretty sure they can do a little bit more defensive and let Ronaldo be in and around the box, to get the goals", he further added.

Ronaldo is expected to be included in the playing XI on Wednesday, and he recently scored a brace in a 3-0 win against Ireland in a friendly. If Portugal go with a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation, he will take up the centre forward or striker role, and will battle for a place in the playing XI with the likes of Ramos, Joao Felix and Pedro Neto.

Watch UEFA EURO 2024 from 15th June 2024, 12:30 AM IST onwards, LIVE on Sony Sports Ten 2 SD & HD, Sony Sports Ten 3 SD & HD (Hindi), Sony Sports Ten 4 SD & HD (Tamil / Telugu), Sony Sports Ten 5 SD & HD (Malayalam / Bengali).

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