Posted May 11, 2012 on AP on Fox
Portugal_national_soccer_410b
Cristiano Ronaldo makes a big difference for Portugal. When an ankle injury kept him out of Portugal's first two European Championship qualifying games, the team drew at home against Cyprus and lost to Norway. When the captain returned, Portugal racked up a five-game winning streak that put it back in contention. Portugal's problem, however, is that the squad lacks depth and, beyond Ronaldo, top-class talent in some key positions. As with previous greats Eusebio and Luis Figo, Ronaldo's presence lifts the team a notch. The Real Madrid forward was Portugal's top scorer in its qualifying campaign, with seven goals in eight games, and is the country's third-highest scorer with 32 goals in 87 appearances. Portugal coach Paulo Bento, mindful of the weight on Ronaldo's shoulders, is eager to stop the expectations from becoming a burden. ''We're going to avoid putting pressure on any one player,'' Bento said. ''We know what value, talent and commitment Ronaldo has given us but we won'...
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