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Ronaldo, 39, doesn't need rest at Euros - coach

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Published in Soccer
Friday, 21 June 2024 12:04

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez has said Cristiano Ronaldo is fit enough to repeatedly play full 90-minute matches at Euro 2024, praising his experience and athleticism.

Ronaldo, 39, played the entire match in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Czechia in their Euro 2024 opener but did not score.

Asked ahead of Friday's game against Turkey if it makes sense to play Ronaldo for 90 minutes, Martinez told a news conference: "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."

Ronaldo scored a Saudi Pro League record 35 goals for Al Nassr in his first full campaign at the club and is the all-time leading scorer in men's international football with 130 goals.

Martinez said he was very impressed by Ronaldo's latest performance.

"He was very disciplined, worked hard and is a killer, a very important box player," Martinez said. "He opens up space. When Francisco [Conceicao] 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."

Conceicao, 21, was a surprise inclusion in Portugal's Euro 2024 squad having made his national tea debut in a friendly in March.

Martinez was asked if Conceicao, who scored the winner against Czechia, deserves to start against Turkey.

"We have 23 field players, 10 who go into the starting 11 and a team that finishes the game," Martinez said. "The important thing is that everyone is ready when called upon. In the last game we saw that. Francisco came in and he showed why he is in the Seleção."

Turkey beat Georgia, 3-1, in their opener, with Real Madrid's Arda Güler breaking Ronaldo's record from 2004 when, aged 19 and 114 days, he became the youngest player to score on their European Championship debut.

"We know that Arda Güler is a sensational talent, he has an extraordinary future," Martinez said. "He's a very efficient player, I like teams that give space to younger players and it's great to see him playing. It was a great momment., But We want to win and we're going to do it.

"I don't agree that this game is going to be easier than our opening game, there are no easy games at a European championship."

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