Romelu Lukaku needs no inspiration as Belgium prepare to face Portugal in Euro 2020, though a personal battle with Cristiano Ronaldo serves as extra motivation.
Ronaldo edged out Lukaku in the Serie A scoring charts in 2020-21, with the 36-year-old Juventus star netting 29 times in comparison to the Inter striker’s tally of 24 league goals.
While Ronaldo won that tussle, Lukaku led Inter to their first Serie A crown in 11 years.
The duo will now meet up on the international stage, Belgium facing off against Portugal in Seville on Sunday with a quarter-final spot on the line.
“On the personal level, yes,” Lukaku told a news conference when asked if going up against Ronaldo in Serie A had improved him as a player.
“As a team it was just important to win the championship. We’ve done it. It was exceptional, the way we were in all the big matches, we won a lot, it was a great season for us. We hope to do it next year.”
Lukaku added: “I would like to have his dribble and the way he kicks the ball. He would like to have my power!”
The Belgium star is on three goals so far in Euro 2020, but Ronaldo leads the way with five, albeit three of those strikes have come from the spot.
Ronaldo scored twice from 12 yards against France last time out, matching Ali Daei’s record of 109 international goals in the process.
He is now the top-scoring European player at major tournaments, with his brace against France moving him beyond Miroslav Klose (19) to 21 goals. Indeed, that was Ronaldo’s second double at Euro 2020 – no player has ever registered three in a single tournament at the European Championships.
“Those are impressive numbers. If there is anybody who can achieve those numbers it’s him, hats off to him, to do that over and over,” Lukaku continued.
“How old is he – 36? [Juve] went out in the Champions League against Porto. The way he got criticism, I was like ‘wow; it’s unbelievable’.
“Then the next game he scored a hat-trick. It’s motivational when you have somebody in your own league who can do it in that age, then you think why couldn’t I get to that level, or as close as possible? He’s a player you can count on, he wins – that’s impressive.”
Though not as sensational as Ronaldo’s, Lukaku also has an international record to boast about. The former Manchester United man has scored 23 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions for Belgium, while also providing four assists in this run, and he believes he has proven his worth as one of the best forwards in the game.
“I wanted to step to the next level, to get better,” Lukaku explained.
“People always would talk about [Harry] Kane, [Robert] Lewandowski, [Karim] Benzema, and say it was world-class level, with me it was always ‘good form’.
“In the last two years I’ve shown that it’s not just good form, I belong with that group. The thing I really want to do is start winning. The fact we won with Inter has given me more motivation to further improve. The final goal would be to win with the national team. That would be the ultimate recognition for the players here and pride for Belgium.
“I need that, the line between provocation, some people go over it. I go to the line and then I know that’s the limit and then I just want to win – that’s my goal.
“I think I’ve gotten to the next level. I keep going up. Everything’s possible. It’s a matter of work, finding the little things that make you better. I know I’ve progressed a lot, that’s for sure. But I’m always looking for that little extra.”
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