EPL

Ronaldo recognises mistake after being dropped by Man Utd

By Sports Desk October 20, 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo acknowledged "the heat of the moment" got the better of him during his early walkout from Manchester United's win over Tottenham, pledging to be "ready for everything" after being dropped by the Red Devils.

United produced one of their best performances under Erik ten Hag during Wednesday's 2-0 win over Spurs, but the victory was overshadowed by Ronaldo walking down the tunnel before the final whistle.

Ten Hag said after the game that he would "deal with" Ronaldo's behaviour on Thursday, and the Dutchman followed through on that vow by sanctioning the 37-year-old.

On Thursday, United announced Ronaldo will play no part in Saturday's Premier League trip to Chelsea, with media reports even suggesting he refused to come on as a substitute against Spurs.

Ronaldo responded to the incident on his official Instagram account, insisting his attitude has not changed.

"As I've always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches," Ronaldo wrote. "That hasn't changed. I haven't changed. 

"I'm the same person and the same professional that I've been for the last 20 years playing elite football, and respect has always played a very important role in my decision-making process.

"I started very young, the older and most experienced players' examples were always very important to me. Therefore, later on, I've always tried to set the example myself for the youngsters that grew in all the teams that I've represented. 

"Unfortunately, that's not always possible and sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of us.

"Right now, I just feel that I have to keep working hard in Carrington, support my team-mates and be ready for everything in any given game. 

"Giving in to the pressure is not an option. It never was. This is Manchester United and united we must stand. Soon we'll be together again."

Ronaldo has only started two of United's 10 Premier League games this season, scoring just one goal in the competition after slipping below Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in the pecking order.

The Portugal captain reportedly asked to leave United following their failure to secure a top-four finish last season but saw several rumoured suitors – including Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich – rule out signing him. 

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  • Southgate remains his own 'biggest critic' amid outside noise Southgate remains his own 'biggest critic' amid outside noise

    Gareth Southgate admits he is his own "biggest critic" amid scrutiny of England's performances at Euro 2024 so far.

    The Three Lions edged to a 1-0 victory over Serbia in their opener before being held to a 1-1 draw against Denmark.

    However, their performances at the tournament so far have drawn a lot of criticism from fans and pundits alike as England have struggled to find their rhythm.

    Harry Kane and Jarrod Bowen have already responded to some of those questions, singling out Gary Lineker's comments on the team, but Southgate remains calm amid the outside noise, saying he finds it easier to ignore ahead of their meeting with Slovenia on Tuesday.

    "I'm oblivious to it [criticism from pundits]," Southgate said. "It's not important to me. What's important to me is guiding this group of players through the tournament.

    "We're a high-profile team with expectations, and I'm very comfortable living that life.

    "I don't need to engage in the external, I'm my own biggest critic. The players are the same. There's nothing to be gained.

    "We're brutally honest about what we need to do better - that's how you coach a team and how you improve."

    "The mood is very good. We know that there will always be external noise, but it shouldn't affect us. What is important is the internal. Performance is what we're focussing on.

    "Of course, we want to hit a different level. There has been an honest appraisal of what we've done and how we need to be better. There are some fundamentals of how we play as a team, that we need to get back to."

    Southgate has also faced injury problems among defenders in the build up to the tournament, though it looked like some of those worries could be assuaged as Luke Shaw returned to training on Monday.

    The manager has ruled him out of their game against Slovenia on Tuesday and says he is particularly happy with what he has seen defensively from his side so far.

    "The game before the tournament against Iceland we were a little bit open, so we were trying to find the right balance of being aggressive, but also perfect defensively," he added. "It's an important part of tournaments, you've got to defend well.

    "Our penalty box defending has been good, but we haven't used the ball well enough. We want some turnovers higher up the pitch. But the defending of our box has been first-class!"

  • Lewandowski not planning to bow out from Poland duty despite Euro 2024 disappointment Lewandowski not planning to bow out from Poland duty despite Euro 2024 disappointment

    Robert Lewandowski is not considering retiring from international football just yet.

    Lewandowski, who turns 36 in August, could be set to play his final match at the Euros when Poland take on France on Tuesday.

    Poland became the first team to be eliminated from Euro 2024 when they lost 3-1 to Austria on Friday.

    Lewandowski came on as a substitute in that match, having missed Poland's loss to the Netherlands due to injury.

    But he has no plans to turn his back on his country.

    "I'm 36 years old soon. A lot of people will be wondering how long I will play for, but I still have that fire inside of me and no one from outside will be able to affect my decision," the Barcelona forward said.

    "One day, maybe I'll wake up and think maybe it's time to think about retiring from international duty. But today I feel and I see that this team has a future, that despite this European Championship we have built something here.

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  • The Numbers Game: Georgia looking to cause an upset on Ronaldo's big day The Numbers Game: Georgia looking to cause an upset on Ronaldo's big day

    Georgia know that knockout football is still within their reach as they prepare for their toughest test so far at Euro 2024 against Portugal.

    Roberto Martinez's side secured top spot in Group F with a game to spare after following up a 2-1 win against Czechia with a commanding 3-0 victory over Turkiye.

    Meanwhile, Georgia missed the chance to claim a maiden victory at a major tournament as they drew 1-1 with Czechia, but they did set themselves up with a chance of getting out of the group.

    Here, we use Opta data to preview Wednesday's clash.

    What's expected?

    After their strong start to Euro 2024, Portugal are the favourites to make it three wins from three games, with the Opta supercomputer giving them a 75.8% chance of getting the job done.

    While Georgia's spirited performances have earned them the plaudits, they are predicted just a 10.4% likelihood of an upset, and a 13.9% chance of taking a point.

    This will be just the second-ever meeting between the nations, with Portugal coming out on top with a 2-0 friendly win in May 2008.

    The Selecao look set to repeat that result, after putting a recent European Championships hoodoo behind them. Having won both of their group-stage games so far, Portugal have now won more than they had across the 2016 and 2020 editions combined (W1 D4 L1).

    However, only once before have Portugal won all three of their group games in the competition (2000).

    As for Georgia, they are chasing what would be a historic first major tournament win, having drawn and lost their opening two matches. Only Greece have got their first such victory against Portugal, beating them en route to lifting the trophy at Euro 2004.

    Georgia have proven tough to beat in the last year - since losing three in a row between June and September 2023, they have only lost two of their last nine games (W4 D3).

    Georgia aiming for a big finish

    Making their major tournament bow at Euro 2024, Georgia have caught the eye with their high-intensity approach to games, pushing both Turkiye and Czechia all the way in their first two fixtures.

    Georges Mikautadze etched his name into Georgia's history books after scoring their first goal at the Euros, before becoming the sixth player to net both of his nation's first two goals at the tournament, and the first since Andriy Shevchenko in 2012 for Ukraine.

    After a free-flowing attacking performance in their 3-1 defeat to Turkiye, which saw Georgia have 14 shots and hit the woodwork twice, they failed to recapture that same spark against Czechia.

    They did earn their first point, though, agonisingly missing out on that first victory as Saba Lobjanidze squandered a golden chance with the last kick of the game.

    Across the first two matchdays of Euro 2024, Georgia faced more shots (49), more shots on target (20) and had a higher expected goals against (xGA) figure (6.1) than any other side.

    Then again, Giorgi Mamardashvili made more saves (16) – 11 of which came against Czechia – and had a higher expected goals on target (xGoT) prevented figure (+3.05) than any other goalkeeper in the first two matchdays, conceding just four goals (excluding own goals) despite facing an xGoT of 7.05.

    It will be a much sterner test for the Valencia goalkeeper against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva, but if he can maintain that level, he will give Georgia a chance.

    Ronaldo set to make more Euros history

    Playing at a record sixth Euros at 39 years old, Ronaldo had seen his place in the squad debated in the build-up to the tournament.

    He has started both matches in the competition so far though, and should he retain his place against Georgia, he will become the first European player in history to make 50 major tournament appearances (28 of those will have come at the Euros, while he has played 22 times at the World Cup).

    Questions continued to circulate after a frustrating outing for Ronaldo in their 2-1 victory against Czechia on MD1, as he failed to score from five shots worth 0.73 xG, including missing one big chance, as defined by Opta.

    However, he silenced some of those with another slice of history in their dominant win over Turkiye on Saturday, teeing up Fernandes to get his seventh assist at the European Championships - the most on record of any player in the competition's history.

    Despite being the tournament's all-time top scorer, Ronaldo is yet to hit the net so far, though the Selecao are the second-highest scorers at Euro 2024 with five goals. 

     

    Portugal have benefitted from an own goal in both of their games – only Spain in the 2020 edition have benefitted more at a single Euros (three), while no team has ever done so in three consecutive games at the finals before.

    Martinez will not be too worried about that though, after two commanding performances, as they look to stay perfect heading into the last 16.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Georgia – Georges Mikautadze

    Mikautadze, as things stand, is the joint-top scorer at Euro 2024, with two goals.

    With the chance to continue their run into the last 16, another goal from him could be the key to setting Georgia on their way.

    If he does score on Wednesday, he would be just the third player in history to net each of his side's first three goals in the competition, after Gerd Muller (Germany) and Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria). Not bad company to be keeping.

    Portugal – Bruno Fernandes

    The pre-match headlines are likely to be firmly focused on Ronaldo.

    But on the pitch, it could be Fernandes who sets the tone for Portugal, having been directly involved in 28 goals in his last 23 appearances for the national side in all competitions, scoring 15 and assisting 13.

    His strike against Turkiye was his first goal at the European Championships (in his sixth appearance), the second major tournament match he has scored in for Portugal, after his brace against Uruguay at the 2022 World Cup.

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