Diogo Dalot believes Cristiano Ronaldo deserves praise despite a less-than-stellar performance in Portugal's tight victory over the Czech Republic at Euro 2024.

Cristiano Ronaldo's effort praised despite criticism

In a dramatic match held in Leipzig, Portugal secured a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in their Euro 2024 opener. The game climaxed when Francisco Conceicao scored the winning goal in the 92nd minute. However, much of the post-match discussion centered around Ronaldo's performance. Leading the attack, Ronaldo struggled to convert several scoring chances.

One notable moment came when Czech Republic goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek thwarted Ronaldo one-on-one. Additionally, Ronaldo saw a potential late assist for Diogo Jota, who was ruled out for offside, adding to his frustration. Some pundits, like Stuart Pearce, questioned Ronaldo's impact on the team, suggesting that the 39-year-old might hinder Portugal's ability to reach their full potential.

Despite the criticism, Diogo Dalot, who shared the pitch with Ronaldo at Al Nassr and the Portugal national team, was quick to defend his teammate. Speaking to reporters after the match, Dalot said, “Cristiano Ronaldo was very focused, very physically fit, and always ready to score goals. I know everybody will always expect him to score goals. Sometimes, he scores, and a lot of times he scores! Today, he was very close. Obviously, you can see in the game that he played how much he ran today. He helped us with and without the ball. He was always moving, energetic, and that’s the Cristiano that we want.”

Dalot's defense highlights the often-overlooked aspects of Ronaldo's game, such as his movement and work rate, both with and without the ball. His presence on the field, even when not scoring, can influence the game's flow and create opportunities for his teammates.

Portugal looking ahead to Turkey

Portugal's victory, while important, was far from flawless. They now face a potentially tougher challenge in their next match against Turkey on Saturday. Turkey impressed with its performance, defeating Georgia in the other Group F game. This sets up a crucial match in which Ronaldo will be keen to bounce back and lead his team to another three points.

Portugal will need Ronaldo's determination to improve on his last performance. The team will rely on his experience and leadership to secure their place in the tournament's next stages. Ronaldo’s critics might see the match against Turkey as a litmus test for his current form and influence on the team.

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez will also look to refine his tactics and address any weaknesses shown in the match against the Czech Republic. The clash with Turkey will require a collective effort, and Ronaldo’s ability to inspire and contribute will be key.

While Ronaldo faced criticism for his performance against the Czech Republic, his teammate Diogo Dalot emphasized the positive aspects of his game. As Portugal prepares for their next challenge against Turkey, all eyes will be on Ronaldo to see if he can deliver a performance that silences his critics and leads his team to another victory. Portugal's journey in Euro 2024 continues with high hopes and the determination to succeed.