Can Cristiano Ronaldo win Euro 2024? Portugal’s chances at UEFA tournament and whether star will play

Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time record goalscorer in men’s international football, with his mark of 128 goals and counting unlikely to ever be beaten.

But time waits for no man and Ronaldo will be 39 by the time Euro 2024 comes around.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid superstar claimed his first and only major international trophy when the Selecao battled their way to glory at Euro 2016. After being forced off with injury in the first half, Ronaldo could be seen directing and encouraging his teammates from the touchline alongside head coach Fernando Santos. In the end, Portugal claimed a 1-0 win over host nation France.

Next year’s tournament in Germany might be Ronaldo’s last for his country. His storied international career is unlikely to last as long as the 2026 World Cup, not least since a team blessed with talented attackers will likely turn to younger alternatives to a player who will be 41 by the time of the tournament in North America.

So, what sort of form are Portugal in and will their veteran striker even play at Euro 2024?

MORE: How many goals has Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Portugal?

Will Cristiano Ronaldo play for Portugal at Euro 2024?

When Ronaldo lost his starting place for Portugal’s last-16 match against Switzerland at the 2022 World Cup and his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win, it felt like a changing of the guard.

It might have been, had Portugal not bowed out against surprise package Morocco in the next round. Still, with Roberto Martinez coming in to replace Ronaldo’s long-time ally Fernando Santos as head coach, the end of an era still felt possible.

As it happened, Martinez instantly found a place for Ronaldo in his vibrant, expansive Portugal setup. The Al Nassr star scored 10 times in nine Euro 2024 qualifiers. That meant he outscored Harry Kane, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland during the preliminary rounds, with only Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku (14) netting more.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal: Caps, goals, records

Can Portugal win Euro 2024?

The form book would certainly suggest that, yes, they can. Yes, Martinez enjoyed a feathered landing into his new job as the Selecao were given a favourable draw alongside Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, but they proceeded to make mincemeat of the competition.

Ten games, 10 wins and 36 goals scored serves as a pretty emphatic statement. And it was not just the Ronaldo show.

From the industry and creativity of Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes in midfield to the lavish attacking talents of Rafael Leao and Joao Felix, this is a supremely gifted Portuguese generation.

One of the criticisms of Santos over recent years was that, after leading a limited and pragmatic lineup to glory at Euro 2016, he was ill-equipped to harness such an inheritance. Martinez’s inclination to oversee more expansive attacking football has yielded impressive early results and puts Portugal among the contenders for glory in Germany next year.

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Can Cristiano Ronaldo win another Ballon d’Or?

Ronaldo’s great rival Lionel Messi won his eighth Ballon d’Or this year on the back of Argentina’s historic triumph in Qatar.

They were once locked on five awards apiece as they jousted on either side of the Clasico divide. 

As they each play their club football with Al Nassr and Inter Miami respectively, it is fair to assume that the most likely route to another Ballon d’Or is through international achievement. It is rare indeed for a player based at a non-European side to get close to winning the modern award.

Indeed, Messi’s seventh came predominantly as a result of him ending a long wait for his first international trophy at the 2021 Copa America. And although the South American tournament is back in 2024, the Euros will be the main show in town.

Messi could be in the running again if Argentina can win the tournament in USA, but a strong Ronaldo performance in a Portugal success would likely put CR7 ahead in the running for what would be a sixth Ballon d’Or.


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