Thursday, July 25, 2024

´Cristiano lives for goals´ – Pepe backs Ronaldo to rediscover magic at Euro 2024

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Jun 2024

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Cristiano Ronaldo “lives for goals” and will soon find a return to form after a prolonged struggle for Portugal, says veteran team-mate Pepe.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is yet to find the net at Euro 2024, failing to score in Portugal’s first three Group F games as Roberto Martinez’s side topped their pool.

Stretching further back, Ronaldo has not scored in any of his last seven appearances for Portugal at major tournaments, his longest such drought across the European Championship and World Cup.

The 39-year-old has had 19 shots across the two competitions since last scoring against Ghana at the 2022 World Cup.

However, Pepe – speaking ahead of the last-16 meeting with Slovenia on Monday – believes his team-mate will soon find his scoring touch.

“Cristiano lives for goals, that’s a fact,” Pepe said in Friday’s press conference. “But have you seen his availability on the pitch to help the national team? It’s incredible.

“He’s the player with the most minutes in our team, at 39 years old.

“He’s doing very well. He’ll do very well in the final stages of the European Championship. I’m certain he will give us a lot of joy.”

Pepe joined Ronaldo in lifting the Euro 2016 trophy, and became the oldest player in the competition’s history by featuring in this year’s edition, aged 41.

“I’m just happy to be part of this group, it’s a privilege,” Pepe said. “The secret [is] the passion I have for football. I’ve said several times that it’s a privilege to be able to get up and do what I love most with a lot of concentration and competitiveness, which is what I have.

“The love I put into every action, so much in training as in the game. That’s it.”

As for any consideration of retirement, Pepe has no thoughts of hanging up his boots just yet.

“I haven’t thought about it yet,” the former Real Madrid defender added. “My focus is on the next training session, on the next game, which is important to me and to Portugal.

“I don’t think about it much, honestly. The future belongs to God, I have many things to worry about today, such as how I will defend my team-mates in the training sessions ahead, how to recover for tomorrow’s training. Those are my concerns.”

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