Football

Hot shots Lewandowski and Ronaldo on cold streaks

Goal machines Lewandowski and Ronaldo have yet to truly fire at Euro 2016

POLAND v PORTUGAL
(Tomorrow, 2.50am, Singtel TV Ch 142 & 
StarHub TV Ch 220)

Two of Europe's most prolific marksmen go head-to-head as Robert Lewandowski will endeavour to end Cristiano Ronaldo's dreams of landing an international trophy when Poland meet Portugal in a Euro 2016 quarter-final clash tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Ronaldo is just one goal away from even more European Championship history by matching French legend Michel Platini's record of nine goals in the Finals.

The Real Madrid star has already become the first player to score in four Euros and broken the competition record for appearances.

At 31, Ronaldo is unlikely to get a better chance at international glory, with the winners in Marseille facing a semi-final clash against his Real teammate Gareth Bale and Wales or Belgium's Golden Generation.

Despite a double against Hungary to save Portugal's blushes by sneaking through the group stage in third place, Ronaldo has yet to catch fire in France.

A flat display and post-match rant against Iceland in Portugal's opener was followed by a missed penalty in a stalemate against Austria.

He was also kept quiet for 117 minutes a dull last-16 clash with Croatia, but his only effort on goal led to the breakthrough as Ricardo Quaresma headed home after Danijel Subasic parried Ronaldo's effort.

"We'll always have a chance. We've got the best player in the world - Ronaldo - and the likes of Luis Nani, Quaresma and Joao Mario," said Portugal defender Jose Fonte.

Portugal were criticised for their negative approach against Croatia, as for the first time in Euros history, no team had a shot on target during the regulation 90 minutes.

However, Fonte insists Fernando Santos' men don't care how they play as long as they make the last four. He said: "If we have to play bad and win, I'll do it.

"As a team you want to play good football and win games but sometimes you can't."

Nani, meanwhile, rubbished comparisons with Euro 2004 winners Greece, saying: "Portugal cannot be compared to Greece.

"We have played different games in different ways. I think we have played well and against Hungary, for example, we scored a lot of goals and put on an exhibition in attacking."

Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny laughed off suggestions Ronaldo is not on top form.

"Portugal are a great team, they are not just Cristiano Ronaldo. Some say he is not playing his best. I would still love to have him in my team," said Szczesny.

BIG TASK

"Besides Cristiano, I have been impressed by Renato Sanches. Undoubtedly we have a big task ahead of us."

Similarly, Nani said it would be a mistake for his team to focus on Poland's own bona fide star, Lewandowski.

He opined: "We know Poland have great players, like Lewandowski.

"But we have to focus on the team, not just one player, because any player can make the difference."

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski has yet to find the net in four games in France, but kept his cool to convert from the spot as Poland progressed to their first major quarter-final for 34 years with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Switzerland.

"We are not worried about Robert, not at all," said Poland assistant boss Hubert Malowiejski.

"Of course he felt some pain after that match, but there is not even the slightest bit of doubt he will be ready for Portugal."

Lewandowski is Poland's fifth-highest scorer with 34 goals in 80 caps, and at just 27, it is conceivable he could surpass Wlodzimierz Lubanski's record of 48 goals.

Ending his barren run at Euro 2016 would be a good way to inch closer to the mark. - Wire Services.


By the number

9: Cristiano Ronaldo is one goal away from matching French legend Michel Platini's European Championship record of nine goals in the Finals.

sportsFootballRobert Lewandowskicristiano ronaldoeuropeEuro 2016