The Euro 2016 surprises end now for Portugal. At least, that is what Cristiano Ronaldo believes.
The Real Madrid star endured a mixed group stage as his nation finished third behind Hungary and Iceland.
As the nation faced elimination in their final Group F encounter, Ronaldo ultimately made the difference for Portugal with his two goals and assist during a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw with Hungary, enough to see them through as one of the best third-placed teams.
But that is where the surprises will end, according to Ronaldo.
“I don’t think there are many surprises in European football. Maybe in the group stage you can have a surprise but the big countries always arrive in the final,” he told the Times of India.
While their road to the round of 16 was nothing like the straightforward run it should have been, the draw has opened up considerably for them – should they be able to get past Croatia.
“We’re facing a very good team and the odds are 50-50. We saw the highlights of their last game against Spain. They are a tough team,” Ronaldo said.
Reigning champions Spain, 2012 runners-up Italy, hosts France and England are all on the other side of the draw.
“Not every team manages to beat Spain but we know our worth and we will look them in the eyes when we face them. We’ll be ready,” he continued.
“I think [Portugal is good enough to challenge]. Portugal have big players playing in the best leagues in the world. So why not?
“Now we need to stick together on the pitch and hope that the luck is with us. We have good players, a good coach in Fernando Santos and we need to believe in ourselves.
“I’ve always said my personal dream is to win a big trophy with my country. There’s a chance it can happen but it’s complicated, it’s difficult. We are giving everything.
“I have won a lot of big trophies in in my career, the biggest you can win, but a title with my country is always important. It’s a big, big dream to fulfil.”