Cristiano Ronaldo has made it clear that it would be a grave mistake on Portugal’s behalf if they were to let their guard down against Croatia in Lens on Saturday.
Portugal reached the Round of 16 of the tournament despite finishing third in Group F, while Croatia, on the other hand, ended their group stage campaign atop the Group D standings.
With that being said, Ronaldo, who is just one goal away from equalling Michel Platini’s record of nine goals in the competition’s finals, is not underestimating Croatia.
“We made it and now we face a very good team, but the odds are 50-50. Croatia are a tough team, with good players – not every team manages to beat Spain, he told reporters. “We respect them, but we know our strengths and we will look them in the eye when we face them.”
Meanwhile, Portugal coach Fernando Santos is hoping that Ronaldo can continue his superb run of form on Saturday as it will be crucial to Portugal’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
“This will have increased his confidence levels. He’s a ¬confident player anyway, but this will have boosted him for the game against Croatia,” Santos said.
Santos added that Croatia were a team Portugal had been trying to avoid, but since that did not happen, the 61-year-old acknowledged that his team will have to be at their best if they are to get past them.
“Croatia are one of the sharks we had been trying to avoid,” he said. “They placed first in a group with Spain, which tells you all you need to know about them.”