Ronaldo can’t do it on a hot Wednesday night in Lviv: I don’t usually start with individual performances but Ronaldo was at the heart of all the tactical interest in this match. Firstly though, let’s enjoy some schadenfreude at what was in every respect a terrible performance from the second best (club) player in the world.
Going forward, Ronaldo had two exceptional one-on-one chances to score; he hit the first with little power straight at Andersen and shovelled the second one well wide. As for his freekicks, it nearly became the primary method of Danish defence to foul a Portuguese player in their half then sit back, relax and wait for the inevitable pose and shot into the wall or a mile over the bar. It really was an awful night going forward for the winger.
The one-on-ones themselves resulted from a brave choice by Olsen to allow Jacobsen to push forward from right back and leave Ronaldo upfield. It’s a gamble between knowing you will have an extra man in the attacking third as Ronaldo won’t track back, and also knowing that you’re leaving Ronaldo free to exploit space on the counter. The tactic didn’t work, as although Ronaldo was awful, he should have put Portugal out of sight long before the 80th minute equaliser, and Coentrao got an assist from this flank (although Jacobsen got one too so honours even there). One might have considered this approach necessary once Denmark went 2-0 down, but it was in evidence from kickoff.
The skew of successful tackles and interceptions to Portugal’s right shows how open the left flank of theirs was with Ronaldo’s usual lack of tracking back.
Denmark and Portugal remain on three points, with Denmark to play an all-but-qualified Germany and Portugal to play a fighting-for-their-lives Netherlands. That Portugal scored three goals even with their best player having a terrible match shows the threat they can pose, while Holland don’t have a Bendtner-esque target man to cause them the problems they suffered from here. Denmark on the other hand may have to take similar risks against Germany, which may cause them to become unstuck.
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