38-year-old forward Cristiano Ronaldo will be called up by coach Roberto Martinez to prepare for the Euro 2024 qualifiers with the Portuguese national team.
After the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup, the future of Cristiano Ronaldo has become uncertain. The Portuguese superstar had a conflict with his longtime coach Fernando Santos after being benched. Although he didn’t say it, everyone noticed CR7’s dissatisfaction.
In fact, many people believe that Ronaldo played a significant role in the firing of coach Fernando Santos. The Portuguese Football Federation quickly found a replacement in Roberto Martinez, the former head coach of the Belgian national team.
Many people are waiting to see what the Spanish coach will do in his first training session with the Portuguese national team. And the biggest question is whether Ronaldo will be present. Although the official roster has not been announced, according to sources from Athletic, CR7 has still been called up for the March training session.
Although the 1985-born striker has moved to Saudi Arabia to play and has not been in great form recently, failing to score in his last three matches for Al Nassr, Ronaldo’s reputation still carries weight. In addition, the two opponents of the Portuguese national team in March are not too strong.
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They only have to face Liechtenstein and Luxembourg in the EURO 2024 qualifying round. Luxembourg is the national team that has conceded the most goals from CR7 with nine, while Liechtenstein is currently ranked 198th in the world.
This is an opportunity for Ronaldo to seek more new records. Firstly, he can continue his race with Bader Al Mutawa of Kuwait in the category of players with the most appearances for their national team. Both are currently tied at 196 appearances, and Bader Al Mutawa has also been called up to the Kuwaiti national team to prepare for two friendly matches against the Philippines and Tajikistan.
In addition, the Portuguese superstar can also expand his record for the most goals scored for his national team, with his arch-rival Lionel Messi in close pursuit. Ronaldo and Messi are important players on the national football team. Currently, CR7 has 118 goals, 20 more than the Argentine superstar. The player standing between these two is the Iranian legend Ali Daei, who has 109 goals but has long retired from playing.
According to The Athletic, coach Roberto Martinez met with Ronaldo before deciding to call him up this time.
When he took office on January 9, Martinez said he expected Ronaldo to continue playing for the national team. “We will start a new strategy by considering all players capable of playing for Portugal,” he said at the time. “Every player has a chance, but we also respect the old national team players and Ronaldo is one of them.”
At the 2022 World Cup, Ronaldo played in the starting lineup for the first three matches but was substituted in the two knockout matches. Portugal was eliminated in the quarterfinals after losing to Morocco.
After the match, he cried when leaving the field. The 38-year-old forward still hasn’t scored any goals in the history of the World Cup knockout stage. After the tournament, coach Fernando Santos retired.
At the national team level, Ronaldo currently holds the record for most goals (118) and shares the record for most appearances (196) with Bader Al-Mutawa of Kuwait.
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Both are the same age and Mutawa may continue playing for Kuwait against the Philippines and Tajikistan in upcoming international friendlies. Meanwhile, Portugal will face Liechtenstein on March 23 and Luxembourg on March 26 in the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Over the past two months, Martinez has been tracking 200 players eligible to play for Portugal, according to O Jogo, including 82 players competing in the top five European leagues. He has also not overlooked players competing in Portugal, other leagues, or mixed-race players.
Martinez could be Ronaldo’s fifth coach at Portugal, following Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlos Queiroz, Paulo Bento, and Fernando Santos. Among them, he won two titles in Euro 2016 and UEFA Nations League 2019, both with Santos.
Since the beginning of 2023, Ronaldo has played nine official matches for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, scoring eight goals and providing two assists. The current Portugal coaching staff includes former defender Ricardo Carvalho, who was Ronaldo’s long-time teammate on the national team.
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