Euro 2024: Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal against the young Czech guns, start of Georgia from Frenchman Sagnol against Turkey, the program for June 18

Euro 2024: Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal against the young Czech guns, start of Georgia from Frenchman Sagnol against Turkey, the program for June 18

Cristiano Ronaldo mènera encore l'attaque portugaise. MAXPPP – PAULO NOVAIS

C'est le dernier jour des premiers matches de poule de l'Euro 2024, mardi 18 juin, avec au programme, le Portugal de Ronado qui rencontre la République Tchèque à 21 h. A 18 h, la Georgie sera opposéeà la Turquie. 

Insatiable Cristiano Ronaldo! While he finished the World Cup in Qatar as a substitute, the five-time Ballon d'Or has once again become important for Portugal and should guide his team again on Tuesday in Leipzig against to the Czech Republic for the Seleçao's entry into the Euro-2024. His last major international tournament, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Ronaldo finished on the bench.

A substitute in the 8th final and then in the quarter-final lost against Morocco, he left the stage in tears. The German Euro seemed very far away and the downgrade seemed final, especially since CR7 had joined the Saudi championship and its airs of golden retirement. But if CR7's legs are a little slower, his mentality and his desire to win have remained the same as ever and the former Real Madrid striker has resumed his path in the national team as if nothing had happened.

The new coach, Roberto Martinez, trusts him and Ronaldo, now 39, had a very solid Euro qualifying campaign with 10 goals scored. During the Seleçao's last preparation match, last Tuesday, he scored two again against Northern Ireland and he will therefore appear on Tuesday against the Czechs and their promising youth at the head of the staggering record of 130 goals in 207 selections.

"I love football and records are just a consequence. It's not a goal for me, they arrive naturally", summarized to the press during the arrival of the Seleçao in Germany the one who is' #39;preparing to play his sixth Euro, another record of course.

Thirst for titles

"I'm happy to play a sixth Euro and I want to make the most of it, by playing well, giving everything I have and ensuring that the team can win" ;quot;, he added. But CR7 probably has in mind to do a little more than just "play well" and enjoy the mild German summer.

"Knowing Cristiano, he continues to dream big. And we will follow him", Manchester United and Seleçao defender Diogo Dalot confirmed this week. "It is important to manage expectations because they are high given our qualities. But we have in mind what we have to do", explained Paris midfielder SG Vitinha.

"It will be important to show how much we want to win and be protagonists of this Euro. We will have to show that we are strong”, he added. Winning, the word is out and it confirms that Portugal, which is playing in a group within its reach with, in addition to the Czech Republic, Turkey and Georgia, is the outsider in the first row behind the trio of favorites which emerges naturally (France, England, Germany).

"This generation deserves to win"

"Dreaming is free! The team is still hungry for titles", for his part explained central defender Pepe (41), who was of course there in 2016 when the Seleçao won the Euro, beating France in the final. Cristiano, forced out with an injury in the 25th minute, was then transformed into assistant coach. On the field, on the bench, or at the edge of the pitch, all titles are worth taking for him. "I believe that this generation deserves to win another trophy of this importance", admitted the Portuguese legend.

The Czech Republic relies on young people from Slavia Prague

The Czech selection, which challenges Portugal on Tuesday in Leipzig (9:00 p.m.), has decided to invest in the future: the young guns of Slavia Prague have taken power and want make Euro-2024 an export showcase. The Czech Republic fields the youngest team in the tournament, with an average age of around 25. A two-year rejuvenation compared to the previous adventure in 2021.

It is the choice of coach Ivan Hasek, appointed last January, after the resignation in November of Jaroslav Silhavy. It must be said that apart from a few already experienced players like Leverkusen striker Patrick Schick, its talent pool is mainly located in the Czech first division. One club is over-represented, Slavia Prague with nine players, far ahead of its rival Sparta Prague and its three players selected.

Many of them, who played in the Europa League until the round of 16, have the potential and the desire to export themselves to championships that are more visible and exposed to the media. When asked about the national team player who was a role model for him when he was a child, defender Tomas Vicek answers… Sergio Ramos!

"For his personality and his sense of combat". Pavel Nedved and Vladimír Smicer, who reached the Euro final in 1996, already with many Slavia representatives, are already too old. Vicek was born only five years later…

Cohesion and speed

Slavia striker Mojmir Chytil, 25, nevertheless cites his teammate and elder Patrick Schick, 28, one of the revelations of the last Euro: “a brilliant player who inspires me a lot, who has exceptional instinct and a stratospheric left foot”. The announcement last week of the transfer of Sparta midfielder Ladislav Krejci to Girona, third in the Spanish Liga who will play in the Champions League next season, could be the first of a series of departures in the coming years.

So that this generation finally breaks through the international media wall, while the Czech Republic, a football country, is one of the most discreet and least expected selections of this Euro. & quot;Our players are largely unknown because the Czech championship is unknown. The Euro can help" to promote it, said Petr Havcik, who follows the selection for the press agency, to AFP Czech CTK.

"It's a great opportunity for our Czech championship to shine and for us players to take a step forward in our career"< /em>, also believes defender David Zima, 23 years old. Petr Havcik cites several promising names in his eyes, in a team whose main qualities are cohesion and speed: defender Robin Hranac, attacking midfielder Pavel Sulc (18 goals in 31 matches with Viktoria Plzen this season), l& #39;dribbling winger Matej Jurasek, a trio of gifted young goalkeepers…

As for knowing what a selection that is still a little green can hope for at this very high level, "we are not very sure, we waits. With a little luck we can see the quarters, confides the journalist. According to whom the Czech Republic's real objective is to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, twenty years after its last participation in a world championship.

Turkey – Georgia

In the other match of the day, Turkey will face Georgia, at 6 p.m., in Dortmund. A Georgian team which qualified for a major competition for the first time under the guidance of French coach Willy Sagnol. 

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