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What we learnt from Portugal's 1-0 win over Confederations Cup hosts, Russia.

Thursday 22nd June 2017
In their second group game of the Confederations Cup, Portugal locked horns with the tournament hosts, Russia. In front of 42,000 screaming Russians, Cristiano Ronaldo was able to silence the home nations' support with a bullet header in the 8th minute. The win takes Ronaldo's men to the joint top of Group A alongside Mexico.

Here is what we have discovered from the encounter.

Russia are better than they think

When you're playing in front of 42,000 of your home fans, starting in a 4-5-1 is not the way to go. How Russia thought they'd keep a team with Cristiano Ronaldo quiet is beyond me. In the first half, the Russians embodied the most defensive team the competition had seen so far. They showed Portugal too much respect and instead played to their own detriment.

When playing on the counter attack, you must at least have an outlet to use, Russia had none. Poor Fedor Smolov was left isolated up front for the whole game as the Russians were unable to retain possession because of their defensive shape. It was only in the latter parts of the second half that Stanislav Cherchesov decided to be more adventurous.

The majority of their 10 attempts on goal came in the last 20 minutes when they decided to play a 4-2-4. If the Russians had believed in themselves from the start, they could have easily salvaged a point against the European Champions.

Cristiano Ronaldo is ageing like fine wine

For those who may have forgotten, Cristiano Ronaldo is 32-years old, yes THIRTY-TWO. Footballing wise, the Portuguese is old but his stats suggest otherwise. Over the years we've seen Ronaldo evolve from a flashy winger into an unstoppable dribbler into a goalscoring machine. We are now in the era of CR9, the most prolific striker in the history of our game.

In a team with limited service and quality, Ronaldo was still able to find space against a low-block defence and deliver the fatal blow. The 32-year old has now scored 74 goals for his country, Ronaldo has now contributed to 14 goals in his past 8 games for Portugal. Just to put that in context, Ronaldo has directly been involved in 800 goals in his career. We are truly witnessing greatness.

Portugal are lacking in creativity

In a team with scarce bits of quality, it's a wonder as to how Portugal won the Euros last year. The men lead by Cristiano Ronaldo resembled a team unsure of their identity and tactical plan against Russia. If it weren't for the movement of Ronaldo, they would have been completely static in attack and would have resorted to u-shape passing across the back. There is a clear lack of creativity from the midfield to supply the attack, Andre Gomes has been lambasted all season for his performances for Barcelona, and yesterday he showed us why.

The central midfielder could barely string two passes together, regularly misreading the runs of Ronaldo and Andre Silva. Bernardo Silva's role in the team was also limited because Fernando Sanches decided to play him on the wing, where he was doubled up upon by the Russians. If the European Champions are to overcome the Germans and Chileans in the latter rounds, they must opt to play Silva in a more central role in place of the below-par Andre Gomes.
Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with ample amounts of passion for both Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid. I'm one of those bandwagonist hipster fans that will claim to know everything about football, but only watches the El Clasico outside of the Premier League. Forgive me, I'm trying. Oh yeah, #WengerOut. 

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