Portugal, which fell to the Belgian, dropped its title and failed for the second time in a row in the last 16 of a major competition. Certainly, the end of a cycle for this team.
The golden generation has just offered itself a 4th quarterfinal in a row in a tournament. The Portuguese scarecrow did not scare more than that a Belgian team that has completed everything before giving free rein to the inspiration of an excellent Thorgan Hazard. But there is a big concern about De Bruyne’s and Hazard’s injury exits, before the confrontation with Italy, on Friday in Munich.
Lined up in the heart of the Belgian backline, Thomas Vermaelen managed to make Cristiano Ronaldo almost invisible. A successful mission that reassures a whole country on the defensive qualities, sometimes questioned, of the Red Devils.
Opting for a centenarian defensive trio (101 years, precisely) with Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen, to stand up to Cristiano Ronaldo’s talent, to the collective qualities of the Seleçao and to its vices. The trio will be starting for the first time since March 24 against Wales, in the qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup. No doubt that, except for a muscular disaster, this partnership will be renewed on Friday.
The Devils have once again marked their territory at the end of the group phase by eliminating Portugal. Kings of the round of 16, they avoided the American and Japanese scares of yesteryear to handle the course of events with professionalism. The Cristiano Ronaldo threat was perfectly understood. And controlled.
Diogo Jota missed everything; the increasingly disappointing João Félix did not get a chance at this Euro (a big half hour in the last game); other older players like Bruno Fernandes or Bernardo Silva also missed their competition in a big way.
After having beaten Portugal, the defending champion, in the round of 16 of the Euro with a score of 1-0, the Red Devils will now face another big game. In the quarterfinals, Roberto Martinez’s men will face Italy, who had a hard time beating Austria on Saturday after extra time.