Portugal coach Fernando Santos has admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo will not be fully fit at Euro 2016, and believes it is unrealistic to think all players can be at 100 percent at this stage of the season.
Ronaldo scored 51 goals in 50 games for club and country in all competitions this season, but ended hampered by injury issues as he pushed his body to the limit. The current situation is now strikingly similar to two years ago, when he was below his best during the Champions League final but still stole the headlines by netting as Madrid won the trophy.
Such club exertions meant the Portugal captain made little impact at the 2014 World Cup, scoring just once in three games as his country exited in the group stages. Later that year Ronaldo himself admitted he had taken a risk by forcing himself to play in that tournament despite suffering from a serious knee problem.
Asked by Marca if he was concerned about his star player arriving again at a tournament less than 100 percent fit, Santos said the situation was different this time — as Ronaldo had been injured in 2014 but this year he was just tired after a long season.
“Look, there is always talk about all the players having to arrive at 100 percent, but that is never the reality,” Santos said. “In football, that is not what happens. There are always exceptions. Obviously, the ideal thing would be for him to be at his best, but I would never leave out a Cristiano at 80 percent. We have looked closely at the preparation so that he does not get more tired. It would be different if he had an injury.
“If we were not sure he would be able to last a game, we would not call him up. I know how he arrived after the Lisbon final  and his problems.”
Ronaldo and Madrid teammate Pepe were given time off by Portugal following the Champions League final in Milan, missing the 1-0 friendly defeat to England at Wembley, although they will be available for the final warm-up game against Estonia on June 8.
“It is normal that they arrive with us later,” Santos said. “They needed some holidays. It is best that they arrive with us happy, and with an extra push having achieved their [club] objectives.”
Ronaldo is the main man at Real Madrid, but his value to Portugal is even greater, Santos added. However he warned that his captain will not be able to win games on his own.
“If he is so important at Madrid, just imagine the situation with Portugal,” he said. “Of course he is just as important, or even more so. When you have players who score 50 or 60 goals a season, and can always score, they have a vital importance, although, Cristiano cannot win on his own. Nobody can win games on their own. He needs help from the others. But, for sure, he is more important for us than he is for Madrid.”
Ronaldo, now 31, has regularly suffered disappointment with Portugal, since his first tournament at Euro 2004 when the hosts were shocked by Greece in the final.
Santos believes Portugal have had the opportunity to win the European Championship in the past but is realistic enough to realise things do not always work out that way.
“If we think of the generations of players we have had then yes, Portugal should have won a Euros by now,” Santos said. “But things do not work like that, there were also many exceptional Spanish generations who did not win it. Then they won one, and went on to win more things. Look at the example of Greece — nobody ever thought they would be champions.”