Euro 2016 Spotlight:Portugal

[The Portugal squad — minus Cristiano Ronaldo — are crammed into a small room. The more senior players are sat around a low table; the others are stood up against the wall.]

RICARDO CARVALHO: Is that door locked?


RC: Good. Right, thank you all for coming, and thank you all for keeping this between ourselves. I've asked you all here today for a quick chat about … well, Plan B.

NANI: Wait, what?

RC: Plan B. We all know what Plan A is, obviously, but we need to think about what we're going to do if it doesn't work. If he's not fit, or whatever. Come on, you saw the Champions League final. Pepe, what was it like playing behind him? Frustrating, right?

PEPE: Aaaaarghghgahaakakakakaka.

RC: Exactly. So we need to have a think. What else have we got going for us? Anybody? We can be honest here, we're all teammates. Right, I'll start. Our goalkeeper, Rui Patricio, is good. Damn good. So good, in fact, that … wait, is he not here?

ELISEU: Said he was feeling a bit ill.

RC: I'll not bother going on then. But he'll be fine. Anybody else?

RENATO SANCHES: Well, there's the defense.

RC: [laughs] Too kind. But go on.

RS: Well, Pepe —

PEPE: [chewing sounds]

RS: — is still brilliant when he's not … distracted; you're still pretty damn good for a 39-year-old —

RC: [frostily] 38

RS: — oh! God, sorry. Anyway, er, and then there's Jose Fonte and Bruno Alves, who can step in if one of you gets injured or suspended. So, er, that's not bad. Right? Right.

RC: Thanks for that. Anybody else?

RS: [under his breath] Thirty-eight, you idiot. Thirty-eight.


RC: Go on.

JM: I don't mean me. Though if I play, that's great. But we've got options in there. We can play Sporting's entire midfield as a unit, and take advantage of the fact they know each other's games well; or I can drop in; or young Mr. Sanches here can show the world exactly why why he cost so much money. We've got depth. After a long season, that might come in handy.

NANI: Oh! I've got one!

RC: Yes?


RC: Indeed.

NANI: No, I'm serious. If … if Plan A doesn't work, then Plan B should obviously be a kind of tribute act: less reliable, less exciting. In fact, why not me and Ricardo? We can take turns to shoot optimistically from distance and hit free kicks into the wall. Eventually, one of them will go in!

[There is a general silence.]

NANI: Well, it makes up for the fact we never have any strikers.

EDER: Rude.




THE GHOST OF EUSEBIO: Well, he's got a point.

PEPE: Redrum. Redrum. Redrum. Redrum.

[There is a knock at the door. Everybody looks up nervously.]

RC: Er … Hello?

[Cristiano Ronaldo bursts into the room, smashing the door to splinters. As he enters the room he jumps, turns and lands on the table with a crash. The table is reduced to matchwood. Ronaldo points with his thumbs to the back of his shirt, on which there is a picture of his face.]

RONALDO: Ronaldo!

RC: Oh! Er ... hi Cristiano. We were just … talking about the Euros. Didn't know if you were around, sorry. Anyway, we were just thinking about the various strengths of our team —

RONALDO: Ronaldo!

RC: — and working through how we might win games this competition —

RONALDO: Ronaldo!

RC: — because, while you know that our Plan A is solid and strong and as good as anybody's —

RONALDO: Ronaldo!

RC: — we thought it might be ... useful just to think, hypothetically of course, about what we might do if something were to happen to Plan A. If we needed to come up with a Plan B. What that might look like? Who it might involve?

RONALDO: [pauses] Ronaldo?

RC: [sighs] Yes. You're probably right.

PEPE: Wait, did Mark Clattenberg stick his tongue out like a lizard? Weird.

Schedule & Results

Tuesday, Jun. 14
Saturday, Jun. 18
Wednesday, Jun. 22
Saturday, Jun. 25
Round of 16 after ET
Thursday, Jun. 30
Quarterfinal after ET & PKs
1 (4)
1 (5)
Wednesday, Jul. 6
Sunday, Jul. 10
Final after ET