'He is a killer' - Roberto Martinez hits back at Cristiano Ronaldo critics

  • Cristiano Ronaldo squandered several chances as Portugal edged past Czechia
  • Roberto Martinez believes 39-year-old is still a star player
  • Portugal face Turkey in Dortmund on Saturday
Ronaldo has faced criticism for his performance against Czechia
Ronaldo has faced criticism for his performance against Czechia / Vasile Mihai-Antonio/GettyImages

Roberto Martinez has staunchly backed Cristiano Ronaldo, insisting that the 39-year-old forward is in peak condition to handle a heavy workload for Portugal throughout Euro 2024.

Despite his impressive record in qualifying, Ronaldo couldn't quite kick off this summer's European Championship on a high note, as he failed to score in Tuesday's narrow 2-1 victory over Czechia.

Lukas Provod broke the deadlock shortly after the hour mark before an own goal from Robin Hranac restored parity and Francisco Conceicao sealed the win in dramatic fashion for the Portuguese.

After the final whistle, Ronaldo quickly became a talking point among fans and pundits for being wasteful with the chances that came his way, ultimately finding himself 'outshone' by youngster Conceicao.

Coach Roberto Martinez
Martinez has defended Ronaldo / Kevin Voigt/GettyImages

Nevertheless, manager Martinez was quick to come to his side, and when asked if Ronaldo will play another 90 minutes in Saturday's game against Turkey, the Spaniard replied bluntly: "Do you know how many minutes Cristiano played last season? He has experience, there was no other player in the history of football with six European Championships played.

"It is important to understand what a player brings. Cristiano brings experience, brings goal opportunities, a way of opening up spaces. Cristiano is in the national team because he deserves to be here, just look at what he has done and what he has done in the last competitions.

"He was very disciplined, worked hard and is a killer, a very important box player. He opens up space. When Francisco scored, the space opened up because Cristiano was in the area. We work with a focus and Cristiano is important for us, in what we try to do in the penalty area."

Portugal face a Turkey side this weekend that are on a high after they beat Georgia 3-1 in their opener, with Real Madrid's Arda Guler on the scoresheet that day.