In his latest column, the 2004 finalist says Portugal are growing into the competition and Cristiano Ronaldo is running hot but Romelu Lukaku is a big cause for concern in the last 16.
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In his fourth UEFA EURO 2020 column, 2004 finalist Nuno Gomes picks out some talking points from Portugal’s entertaining draw with France and looks forward to the round of 16 duel with Belgium, where subduing Romelu Lukaku will be key.
Midfield looked stronger
Portugal played well against France. There were changes to the line-up after fielding the same side against Hungary and Germany. Against France, coach Fernando Santos tinkered with the midfield and I believe that Portugal, particularly in the first half, demonstrated that they can be a match for anybody in this tournament; they looked so comfortable with the ball.
Avalanche of emotions
It was a very powerful game emotionally. Over the course of the 90 minutes, Portugal were heading through in first, in second, in third and even heading for an early exit at one point, when Hungary were beating Germany. It was a good game for football lovers, and must have created a lot of emotion for those who were in the stands or at home.
The draw was fair
It was a fair result in the end. Portugal deserved to go in at half-time with a lead but France started the second half much better, got their noses in front and Portugal responded well. In the end, what mattered most was that Portugal confirmed their place in the last 16.
What can you say about Ronaldo?
It's hard to find more words to say about Cristiano Ronaldo. He continues to score, he continues adding something to the game. He has a very high scoring rate because he takes his opportunities. Against France, he scored two penalties but that's certainly not easy, under pressure at a EURO. He’s still in great shape, with a 'hot foot'. His performing like this is a good sign for Portugal.
Rui Patrício's moment
Rui Patrício's save is also worth mentioning. It was a great moment, the save of the tournament so far! It was a fantastic shot by Paul Pogba and a great save. After the first save, the keeper still had the ability to react and stop the second effort. It was another reminder of how important Rui Patrício has been to this team in recent years.
Beware of Lukaku
Now we are into the last 16. Any discussion about Belgium is a discussion about Lukaku – he's one of the strongest attacking players in the world. He has incredible explosive power and is very strong physically; he likes to play with his body, to outmuscle defenders. He plays well with his back to goal. Portugal will have to be extra careful of the Inter man.
De Bruyne and Hazard
All teams have their best players – and Lukaku is in that category – but Belgium also have Kevin De Bruyne, one of the best in the world in his position. He's a different player, with a lot of class and talent, who serves Lukaku well with his dangerous deep passes. Then there's Eden Hazard, an excellent player. I could go on! Belgium have a strong collective but also individual players capable of doing something special at any moment.