Cristiano Ronaldo is eyeing a second international title with Portugal as the Euro 2016 champions prepare for the Nations League final against Netherlands.
Portugal and Netherlands will do battle in Sunday’s decider after Ronaldo’s hat-trick saw off Switzerland 3-1 in the semi-finals.
Ronaldo – who featured in the Euro 2004 final loss to Greece – helped Portugal to European glory three years ago and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has set his sight on victory in his third international decider.
“When I pull on the shirt of the national team, it’s a huge honour for me and it’s a different feeling than it is playing for clubs,” Ronaldo told UEFA.com.
“It’s our country: my family is Portuguese, my friends too. I grew up in Portugal, so it’s special to put on the shirt of the national team. And obviously, the chance to fight for trophies makes it even more special – like it was in Euro 2004 and Euro 2016, and how this competition will be now.
“Three finals and I hope to win two of the three. That would be fantastic and I have hope − so does the team. We are positive; we are playing at home.
“I hope the stadium will be great, that there will be good energy, that this energy will be transmitted to us, and that everyone can be confident, because we will try to give our best. Together, we can become champions.”
After 90 minutes of intense exercise, there’s allways a chance for a final punchline! Ending big is allways the best way to close the show! pic.twitter.com/ZIP8H131Qg
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) June 6, 2019
Ronaldo dazzled in the semis, with his brilliant treble sending Portugal through to the inaugural Nations League final.
It took the 34-year-old’s international tally to 88 goals via his 53rd career hat-trick.
“It’s the preparation – my work ethic,” Ronaldo said when asked about defying his age. “I still feel good despite being 34 years of age. The most important thing is your head, to feel motivated and happy, and to follow my path as a player, because I think I still have a lot to give and I feel very good.”
Standing in the way of Portugal and an international title are Netherlands, who overcame England 3-1 after extra time.
Boasting Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, Ronaldo added: “Netherlands are an excellent team. They have been playing pretty well. I’ve been watching them in recent matches and they have an excellent squad with great players – young players and more experienced players, which makes their team even stronger.
“We know that they will be quite a difficult opponent, but I think that for both Portugal and Netherlands, this is simply what finals are like.”
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