A rather surprising stat did the rounds after Portugal played Germany last Saturday. During the game, Cristiano Ronaldo took the 50th direct free-kick of his international career at a major tournament (somebody actually counts these things). How many goals has he scored from them? One. (Against Spain at the 2018 World Cup).
For a fella who scored a heap of goals direct from frees for Manchester United and Real Madrid (45 in all), that’s, well, quite a modest tally, but one that mirrors his struggles at Juventus in the same department. When he scored from a free against Torino in July 2020, it was his first in 43 attempts for the club - and he hasn’t managed another since.
In total, he has 56 career goals from frees, for his clubs and country, a mark that …. and this will pain him …. Lionel Messi passed last week when he scored for Argentina against Chile in the Copa America.
Ronaldo’s more recent struggles with frees, then, have left him having to settle for a career record of 781 goals and 225 assists in 1,071 appearances. The shame.
Quote of the day
“We hear from friends and family that the country is really up for the tournament. It’s nice to have 82 million Germany head coaches again, rather than 82 million virologists.” - Germany’s Leon Goretzka chuffed that his people have gone back to being experts on football rather than Covid.
By the numbers
34: That’s the average percentage of possession Sweden have enjoyed in their two group games thus far, the lowest in the tournament. That might be connected to their passing accuracy, the tournament’s worst.
Kuper’s apt summary of Ronaldo
Whatever about Cristiano Ronaldo’s free-taking woes, he’s doing reasonably well in most other departments - so well, in fact, he earned himself the mother-of-all-opening paragraphs in the Financial Times last Friday, as penned by football writer Simon Kuper:
“Cristiano Ronaldo tells us who he is through his body. It is his personal creation, still perfect at 36: that impossibly narrow waist and straight back, the abdominal muscles of a Socialist Realist statue, the standing leap of a basketball star, the sulky looks of a boy-band singer, and the ultra-marathoner’s heart….. God made his footballing rival Lionel Messi, but Ronaldo is proud of having made himself.”
Hair the hot topic for England and Scotland
“I told the team they had to get the same haircut as me if we win it. They all agreed.”
This revelation from Phil Foden suggests that his team-mates reckon they've as much chance of winning Euro 2020 as, say, the Republic of Ireland.
“When they see me with the shaved head, they know we mean business. I did mention the idea of everyone doing the same thing, but a few of the boys have got bad hairlines, so they weren’t too keen.”
Lyndon Dykes, still the only shaven-headed member of the Scottish squad - although Steve Clarke might have torn all his hair out after losing Billy Gilmour.
Swiftest Deletion of an Instagram Video
That would be the one Scottish captain Andy Robertson speedily removed from his account on Monday, not long after the country’s football association stated that Billy Gilmour, who has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss the all-or-nothing group game against Croatia on Tuesday, had no close contacts in the squad. The video? It showed Robertson playing table tennis in the team hotel with John McGinn and, eh, Billy Gilmour. As The Sun put it, “Ping Pong Gone”.