Cristiano Ronaldo put on a show against Austria Saturday night. Austria’s messy, disjointed display meant that the world’s best pure scorer could do everything he loves to do. Portugal fired off 23 shots, and Ronaldo took 10 of them, including a penalty attempt. And somehow, some way, Portugal left the pitch with a 0-0 draw. Come on, you knew this was coming:
Poor Cristiano Ronaldo. #PORvAUT #Euro2016 pic.twitter.com/yx9jCq6gYj— Ginge (@Ginge) June 18, 2016
How is this possible? Is Ronaldo hot garbage now? Is he being played out of position? Nonsense. The dude bagged 51 goals for Real Madrid last year at the age of 31. (He hasn’t scored less than 50 goals in a season since 2009-10.) Even though he’s moved more centrally as he’s gotten older, he’s become an incredible No. 9. His movement to create space for himself is impeccable. He peels off defenders’ shoulders, stretches them out, and takes excellent shots. His performance tonight was superlative, and yet, he couldn’t find the back of the net once.
This curse stretches back to the Iceland draw, too. Ronaldo’s taken 20 shots across both games, and he’s scored exactly none of them. He turns, spins, and sees his shot go just wide of the post. He sees his free kicks (obviously) sky the bar. When he drills the ball on frame, keepers like Austria’s Robert Ulmer make insane saves. Even when Ronaldo steps up to the penalty spot, he whacks the woodwork. Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t suddenly bad; rather, the very fabric of the universe might be tearing itself apart.
There's a timeline where Portugal have 6 goals already and we're talking about them as tournament contenders.— Mike L. Goodman (@TheM_L_G) June 18, 2016
Now, Ronaldo wasn’t solely responsible for Portugal’s rotten luck. The team has shot 50 times across both games in the tournament thus far, and only have a Nani goal against Iceland to show for it. Ricardo Quaresma started against Austria to give the side more attacking spark out wide, and the midfield absolutely ran rings around Alaba and company, particularly in the first half. It was all for naught. The entire starting XI had a WTF performance tonight.
We all know, however, that as goes Ronaldo, so goes Portugal. The best pure scorer in the world came up mystifyingly short today. That doesn’t mean it will happen when they face Hungary on Wednesday, nor if they advance to the knockout stage. CR7 may erupt and bag a double hatty, send Portugal through to the next round, and this weirdness might be forgotten. If not, we may have to suddenly realize that we are living in the darkest timeline of the European Championship.