Time's up, Cristiano Ronaldo - you're not that guy anymore

  • Portugal eliminated from Euro 2024 at quarter-final stage
  • Cristiano Ronaldo put in series of woeful performances at international tournament once again
  • Selecao must move on from this era of feeding his ego
Ronaldo's Portugal are out of Euro 2024
Ronaldo's Portugal are out of Euro 2024 / James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Here we are again. Another Portugal post-mortem centred around the attention of one man in particular.

It's a rather appropriate ritual given how their performances were at the behest of one man, in fairness. You live by Cristiano Ronaldo, you die by Cristiano Ronaldo. Once again, the Selecao were stuck with inglorious death.

France eliminated Portugal at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2024, prevailing on penalties after what can only be described as 'a match of competitive football that took place'. Trust me, it was numbingly but painfully exhausting.

For the second knockout match running, Portugal went the whole 120 minutes trying their best to feed their captain. It wasn't quite as honking as his disastrously wincing showing against Slovenia, but it was pretty damn close.

Ronaldo cared little about progressing the ball and trying to get his supremely talented co-stars involved - a sentence that has been written again and again and again for half a decade. Even when he did receive possession, he was once more wasteful. His standout moments were piledriving a free-kick from a tight angle straight into the wall when it would have been infinitely better to cross it instead, and then skying a shot from a few yards out in extra-time.

That was the end of his highlight reel, and that should be the end of this iteration of Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Roberto Martinez
Ronaldo and Martinez are out / Dan Mullan/GettyImages

Ronaldo has only three goals in 21 knockout games of major tournaments, which is a bit of a problem if your whole system is designed to get him scoring.

The noise and fanfare that follows Ronaldo makes it hard enough to deliver under extreme pressure, but the reality is he is that same famed player in name only.

Portugal have bundles of top-level attacking talent in their ranks - Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao, Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota, Joao Felix and Pedro Neto to name a few. Yet they were reduced to mere extras in the one-man show, and they should all feel aggrieved at that kind of casting.

So much of manager Roberto Martinez's energy has been put into trying to devise a system which accommodates Ronaldo, yet for all of the goal-scoring records they smashed on their way to the Euro 2024 finals this summer, it counted for little when the going got tough. You can't construct a team like that anymore, and Ronaldo isn't the kind of player you would want to do that for anymore.

Martinez not only failed to perfect that system, but he allowed Ronaldo to get away with footballing murder without repercussion. Even his predecessor, Fernando Santos, found joy in dropping Ronaldo during their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign, beating a strong Switzerland 6-1 in the last 16 with him out of the lineup.

In that sense, Martinez is responsible for Portugal's collapse at this Euros. In another, it's Ronaldo for not accepting a lesser role. It's a political problem that can't hold the team to ransom any longer.

There should still be a use for Ronaldo, but it likely - even if wrongly - hinges on whether he is willing to accept it. It starts and ends with him. He lives and dies by himself.