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Cristiano Ronaldo swapping Real for Juventus? Not so fast

Cristiano Ronaldo
 By Tom Kundert

Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo triumphant at last with Euro 2016 glory

Cristiano Ronaldo called it his "greatest moment." Portugal has at last won a major tournament. But their glory in France was not down to one man, as plenty of Portuguese players came to the fore.

Here's a look back at a joyous campaign as Fernando Santos' men won Euro 2016.

At a glance

Euro 2016 was a historical triumph brilliantly orchestrated by coach Santos, in which the unity and spirit of the whole squad brought the ultimate reward.


Eder's goal. The lanky striker was looked upon in Portugal as the ugly duckling of the squad, with many doubting his ability to make a difference at this level. He was superb from the moment he came on against France in the final and chose the biggest match in the history of A Selecao to make his critics eat their words.

Thanks to his superb strike 109th minute strike, the "ugly duckling" has etched his name into the history books of Portuguese and European football forever.

Low point

After dominating the first two group games but coming away with only two draws, the 3-3 draw with Hungary witnessed chaotic defending that bordered on amateurish at times as nerves threatened to bring Portugal's tournament to a premature end.

Three times poor defending allowed Hungary to take the lead and as coach Santos later admitted: "Three times we were on our way home."

Star man

Pepe. The powerful centre-back is everyone's favourite pantomime villain given his propensity to brazenly playact at times, but his detractors often overlook the fact he is a magnificent defender. You don't get to be an automatic starter for Real Madrid for 10 years straight unless you are a very, very good player.

Pepe was impeccable, giving monstrous displays against Croatia and Poland before another commanding performance against France in the final. His dominance in the air, speed on the ground and perfectly timed tackling quashed the threat of Portugal's adversaries.

He was the leader of a watertight defence -- the Hungary aberration aside -- and without him, Portugal would probably not be champions of Europe.

Cristiano Ronaldo limped out of the final but Portugal prevailed thanks to a typically tough performance by Pepe.

Lessons learned

There's more than one way to win. Ever since Euro 2000, Portugal have dazzled with their flair football but despite coming close on several occasions, they had nothing to show for it in terms of silverware. The shift to a more pragmatic approach brought about by Santos changed that and left Portugal fans weeping tears of joy instead of tears of "what might have been".

Despite what some analysts insist, this was no fluke victory. Portugal's squad is packed with talented players who have the ability to play sparkling football, but more importantly, they showed they are intelligent footballers, implementing their gameplan of a more circumspect approach.

The future looks extremely bright. The likes of Renato Sanches, Joao Mario and Raphael Guerreiro showed they have what it takes to thrive at the highest level, and they will only get better as they acquire more international experience.

In addition to their Euro 2016 heroes, Portugal have a glut of immensely talented players in the 20-24 age group, many of whom were not chosen to make the trip to France. And what's more, they proved to the world what Portuguese fans have known for a long time. Portugal is not Ronaldo plus 10 others.

Tom Kundert covers Portuguese football for ESPN FC. Twitter: @PortuGoal1.


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