Ronaldo in ‘form of his life’, but Belgium ‘can stop him as a team’
With five goals in three matches, Portugal skipper Cristiano Ronaldo is leading the goal scorers' chart at the Euro 2020 after the completion of the group stage of the competition. And according to Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld, Portugal's star forward might be "in the form of his life," but Belgium can still stop Ronaldo when they go head-to-head in Seville for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
"He [Cristiano] is in the form of his life, but as a team we can stop him. That has always been our strength," Alderweireld told reporters after Portugal finished third in Group F after last-gasp drama at the conclusion of the group phase on Wednesday.
"But they will be difficult, they are a real tournament team," he added.
The contrast in the two sides' progress could not have been greater with Belgium masterfully overcoming adversity to win all their group games, while a pugnacious Portugal saw their fortunes ebb and flow before they finished third in their section after holding world champions France to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday.
But top-ranked Belgium, boasting the golden generation including Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Youri Tielemans and Thibaut Courtois, veteran defender Alderweireld, will still be wary of the defending champions.
"I think they [Portugal] are a very difficult team to beat, they have a lot of quality, the team is very compact, they know how to play big games in big tournaments. And they have a lot of experience as well, so I think we are going to have to be top to beat them.
"Of course, everyone talks of Cristiano Ronaldo, he is one of the best in the world but they have not only him but also a lot of quality around him, who create chances for him."
Belgium have never won a major tournament, having finished runners-up at the European Championship in 1980, while the Red Devils finished third at the 2018 World Cup.
Belgium have reached the knockout stages in each of their last five appearances at a major tournament (Euros and World Cup), progressing to the semi-final in their previous one at Russia 2018. Their defeat to eventual winners France three years ago is the only one of their last 10 games at major tournaments that they have failed to win.
And Alderweireld insisted that Belgium were "very hungry and desired to achieve success at the Euro 2020.