Cristiano Ronaldo certainly attracts most of the attention, just not the whole thing.
Ronaldo is on his way to becoming an all-time leader in international football. He can set that record on Sunday when Portugal face Belgium in a round of 16 at the European Championships.
However, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez wants to make sure that his players will not only watch Ronaldo.
“When you make a plan against a player, you can be hurt by other players,” Martinez said. “Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be the player who gets the right moment, this right pass and the right chance and you should always be aware, but you have to defend the 10 players of Portugal in the same way.”
Martinez said Portugal had an “incredible build-up” of good players on their team to support Ronaldo, from Bernardo Silva to Diogo Jota to Bruno Fernandez to Renato Sanchez to Joao Moutinho.
“You know why this team was successful, you know why this team won the Euro and the League of Nations,” Martinez said. “That’s because they have an amazing mentality and they know how to play great games.”
Ronaldo is the leading scorer of the tournament with five goals after three matches. He is one goal away from breaking the overall record for men in international football. The 36-year-old Juventus striker is on par with former Iran striker Ali Daey with 109 goals.
“We all know he’s one of the best players in the world,” Martinez said. “Every player adapts as you get older, become a little more clinical with what you do. I think Cristiano Ronaldo knows how to use space, he penetrates from different areas, there is an incredible air threat. “
But Belgium also has its threats – from Kevin De Bruyne to Eden Hazard to Romelu Lukaku, who has three goals entering the knockout stages. De Bruyne and Hazard, along with Axel Witsel, are returning after gradually returning to the team during group matches. During training in Belgium, they were not fully accessible due to injuries.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos has said he is also not preparing a plan to detain specific Belgian players.
“We can’t give space to their team. “We can’t let them think without being disturbed by us,” Santos said on Saturday. “They’ve been playing together for a long time.”
The Red Devils, ranked No. 1 in the world, have won 13 matches in a row, including their three Euro 2020 group matches and all 10 qualifiers for the tournament.
“We are full of confidence, full of momentum,” Martinez said. “We look forward to seeing how we can improve and how much we can enjoy this occasion, because at the end of the day, when we enjoy our football, we play our best and we have to do it.”
Belgium had a two-day break more than Portugal for a match expected to be played in hot conditions in southern Spain. Both teams were concerned about the conditions at La Cartuja Stadium, which was built for the 1999 World Cup.
Portugal had only one victory in their three group matches, against Hungary in the beginning. He then lost to Germany and ended up on a draw with France to continue from difficult group F as one of the best teams in third place.
Portugal had only one win in 90 minutes during the entire Euro 2016 tournament, when they finally broke through with their first big title, defeating host France in the final.
Belgium is now the team trying to end its drought in the title and lift its first big trophy. He was runner-up at the 1980 European Championships and finished third three years ago at the World Cup for his best final in this tournament.
“This is a special generation, dedicated to international football,” Martinez said. “We worked hard to get better. We have six players with very close to 100 caps, two players very close to 90 caps. This is an exceptional generation. We are just trying to adapt to what we will need on Sunday and be the best we can be. “