Portugal winger Silvestre Varela has defended team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo despite his wasteful start to Euro 2012.
Varela, who netted the winner against Denmark in a 3-2 victory on Wednesday, said Portugal’s star man had nothing to prove despite missing a host of guilt-edged chances in their opening two group games.
“Cristiano Ronaldo has been fine. He is an excellent captain and player. He has nothing to prove,” Varela said.
“You cannot compare Ronaldo at Real Madrid to the one who plays for Portugal. The way a player performs for a club and for the national team are two different things.”
Ronaldo, who bagged 46 goals from 38 games in La Liga this season, has scored 32 goals in 92 appearances for his country since his debut in 2003.
But despite scoring the crucial goal after coming on in the second half, Varela does not believe that will be enough to earn him a starting berth against the Netherlands on Sunday with world class players like Ronaldo and Nani standing in his way.
“I always try to help this team to reach their goals, regardless of whether I am a starter or not. The coach is the one to decide,” he said.
“Nani and Ronaldo have been playing very well. They work hard and are world-class players. I hope that everything will continue to go well for them.
“Any player would like to start, but if the coach decides that I have to come on as a substitute, I have to respect him and give my best for the team.
“My goal against Denmark was one of the best moments of my career.”
Portugal will book their place in the quarter-finals if they defeat the Netherlands and Denmark fail to beat Germany.