Joachim Low wants Germany to show Cristiano Ronaldo they have the kind of bottle that he and Portugal cannot handle in Saturday's crunch Euro 2020 clash.

Head coach Low has told his team to "take more risks" and be brave as Germany bid to bounce back from their opening 1-0 defeat to France in Group F.

The Munich tussle follows several days when Ronaldo has faced scrutiny for moving two Coca-Cola bottles that were positioned on a news conference stage, and appearing to declare he preferred water to the tournament sponsor's product.

"Cristiano can do more than put away Coca-Cola bottles, he has more qualities," said Low on Friday evening, as he faced questions on how Germany would handle the Portuguese superstar.

That quip came amid a full assessment of Portugal's threat, but Low was more eager to talk about his own team's potential, feeling they have more to give than they showed against France.

He said that result left an "unfortunate and bitter" feeling, and added: "It's no secret we didn't create enough."

Low, who will step down after this tournament, hopes to see "more attacking power", saying Germany "need to be more intense, more effective".

"I think every player understood in attack we need to react in a different way. If we are in the final third, we need to stay there. [Against France] we always played backwards going out of the final third," Low said.

"We tried to be secure, not intense enough, but we need this dynamic in attack, especially in the final third.

"We need to take more risks, occupy spaces better, not go out of these spaces, and be more effective. We missed a number of occasions and options to do better [in the France game] and I'm sure we will do better tomorrow."

Portugal began with a 3-0 win over Hungary, though they were flattered by that margin, with the match having been goalless going into the final 10 minutes.

Ronaldo scored twice, his first a penalty, after Raphael Guerreiro broke the deadlock.

"It's not a one-man show, that's clear," Low said of Portugal.

"Portugal have been at the top since four to five years. With winning the Euro title [in 2016] they grew together, they're a great team.

"Is it a one-man show? It was before... Cristiano Ronaldo the superstar of the Portuguese team, he was 'the man', but this has changed. They have more players of top quality: [Bernardo] Silva, [Bruno] Fernandes, Joao Felix, Jota and many more and they are involved in attack as much as Cristiano is."

Germany would be in great danger of elimination should they lose, and going out in the group stage of his final tournament would hardly be a fitting way to sign off for World Cup winner Low.

"With the pressure we can deal with it, the players can deal with it," Low said. "We need a positive result and we want to show a good performance, but the pressure won't hinder us."

Portugal's last victory against Germany was in the group stages of Euro 2000 – a 3-0 win, courtesy of a Sergio Conceicao hat-trick.

Since then, Germany have won their four meetings with Portugal, all at major tournaments (the World Cups in 2006 and 2014 and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships).

But Low said: "All that's important is tomorrow night, 90 minutes against Portugal, and not what our history is against Portugal or France. This doesn't help if you know about that."

Fernando Santos is well aware of the threats possessed by Germany but insists Portugal will not go into Saturday's clash just looking to negate their opponents' strengths.

Portugal began their Euro 2020 defence with a 3-0 win over Hungary on Tuesday though it arguably was not as clear-cut as the scoreline suggested, with all three goals coming in the final 10 minutes - a European Championship first.

Nevertheless, it was a vital late flurry given matches against Germany and France await in Group F, their meeting with Die Mannschaft on Saturday practically a must-win for Joachim Low's men after their 1-0 defeat to Les Bleus.

France's set-up against the Germans seemed to raise eyebrows due to the level of their pragmatism – their average starting position of 32.8 metres from their own goal is the second-lowest at the tournament so far, highlighting how Didier Deschamps' men looked to absorb pressure.

 

Similarly, France showed very little willingness to press, particularly in advanced areas. On average they allowed Germany 55 passes before initiating a defensive action outside of their own defensive third, 22.7 more than any other team, which shows just how extreme Les Blues' counterattacking approach was.

France restricted Germany to just one shot on target, though it seems Portugal will not be looking to implement similar tactics.

"Portugal and Germany are two very strong teams," Santos told reporters on Friday. "Just count the number of German players who were in the Champions League final.

"Germany really wants to have the ball, to be a steamroller and push the opponent back. Afterwards, they attack with depth, but from closer [to goal] rather than in counterattacks.

 

"But they will also have to adapt to us. We are different from France. Let's see what Germany does and we'll try to control Germany too. One thing's for certain, we have to have a ball.

"We are not going to defend man to man. We're going to maintain our defensive pattern to be able to have the ball, as we did against Hungary, whom we forced to run.

"I don't know what Joachim [Low] is going to do. Germany has been oscillating between the two ways of playing [back three and back four].

"He has lined up with four in defence, where one of them was [Emre] Can and three in midfield, and more recently he has gone back to three at the back, with two in midfield and three forwards.

"If we pay attention, the game against France already showed nuances, with [Joshua] Kimmich more in midfield and [Matthias] Ginter on the right in the second half. Our players know this, they have already been warned about it."

 

Ruben Dias says Portugal are not getting carried away after making a winning start.

"We're up against a high-level team, one of the best at the European Championship," he said. "Although we started the Euros very well, we need to keep our feet on the ground, take what there is to take out, but also understand that we have to be better [than against Hungary] to win this game."

Cristiano Ronaldo must break new ground when Portugal face Germany at Euro 2020 if his quest for a new world record for international goals is to continue.

The Juventus star struck twice late on to help his side to a 3-0 victory over Hungary in their opening Group F match and become the leading scorer in European Championship finals history with 11 in 22 appearances.

Ronaldo is one goal short of matching Miroslav Klose (19) for the most goals by a European player at the Euros and World Cup combined, while an altogether grander record is now within his sights: he is only three adrift of Iran great Ali Daei's tally of 109, the most scored by any international men's player.

However, history is for once not on Ronaldo's side when it comes to facing Germany, who lost 1-0 to France in their opening match in Munich.

He has played four times against them – 360 minutes in total – and attempted 23 shots in those matches, but Ronaldo has never scored against Joachim Low's men. Only against France (six) has he played more international games without finding the net.

Former striker Nuno Gomes does not appear worried that Ronaldo's barren run will continue at the Allianz Arena, where a Portugal win would secure their place in the knockout phase and could leave Germany unable to finish in the top two should France avoid defeat to Hungary.

"Cristiano already has us believing that, for him, nothing is impossible," Gomes wrote via UEFA. "He is highly motivated and we can expect him to give his all.

"He may have lost some pace and explosiveness but has gained a flair for different kinds of goals. His positioning is very important and he's been in the right place at the right time, something that is important for a striker. It's hard to find the words to describe what he has done."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portugal – Bruno Fernandes

Germany controlled possession well against France but looked susceptible to almost every counter-attack with the pace of Kylian Mbappe and passing of Paul Pogba.

Bruno Fernandes, who created a game-high three chances against Hungary, is Manchester United's architect when it comes to releasing forwards on the break and could be the main threat to the German defence if the holders do indeed adopt a counter-punching style.

Germany – Joshua Kimmich

The loss to France highlighted the main concerns around Low's 3-4-3 system: while it gives Germany greater nominal control on the game, it moves Kimmich away from an influential midfield role to that of a wing-back reliant on optimistic crosses (he attempted seven in the opening game).

Should Low return to a 4-3-3, it would allow Kimmich to move back into a central trio alongside Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan and bring an extra creative dimension to the middle.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the fifth meeting between Portugal and Germany at the European Championship; only Italy and Spain have faced each other on more occasions in the tournament (six). It will also be the sixth encounter between the two teams at major tournaments since Euro 2000 (four at the Euros, two at the World Cup), the most between two European nations over that period.
- The past five matches between Portugal and Germany have produced 17 goals, an average of 3.4 per match. Four of those five games have witnessed three or more goals.
- Portugal have lost just two of their past 30 matches in all competitions (W19 D9), scoring 67 goals and conceding just 19 times across these games. Having won 4-0 against Israel and 3-0 against Hungary in their previous two matches, they are looking to win three games in a row without conceding for the first time since November 2017 (four in a row).
- Germany have suffered three defeats in their past four group matches at major tournaments (Euros and World Cup), as many as in their previous 24 group stage games (W16 D5). They have not suffered consecutive defeats in the group stage at a major tournament since losing to England and Portugal at Euro 2000.
- Germany midfielder Toni Kroos completed exactly 100 passes against France. In the past three tournaments (Euro 2016, World Cup 2018, Euro 2020), there have been six instances of a Germany player completing 100 or more passes in a game and all six have been by Kroos.

Cristiano Ronaldo thanked his Portugal team-mates for helping him to surpass Michel Platini as the European Championship's outright all-time record goalscorer with his double against Hungary.

The 36-year-old scored a penalty late on in Tuesday's Group F clash to move one in front of Platini – who netted all nine of his goals in the 1984 edition – at the top of the competition's scoring charts.

He added to his tally in added time as Portugal, who opened the scoring through Raphael Guerreiro's 84th-minute strike in Budapest, became the first team in the history of the Euros to score three goals in the final 10 minutes of a game.

Ronaldo is also the first man to play and score in five separate European Championships and now has an even greater record in sight, the Juventus forward just three shy of Ali Daei's world record of 109 international goals.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner will have an opportunity to close in on Daei's impressive tally when Portugal take on Germany in Munich in their next group outing on Saturday.

Speaking after Portugal's late win against Hungary in front of around 61,000 spectators – the most at any game at this year's tournament – Ronaldo said: "It was important to win. It was a difficult game. 

"Hungary defended very well for 90 minutes. We managed to score three goals and I am very grateful to the team for helping me to score twice and collect the man of the match award. 

"It was essential to go in with the right foot to give confidence. Now we have to just keep going, keep going. We will look to win the next game."

 

It looked like being a day of frustration for reigning European champions Portugal before a late flurry of goals gave them their joint-record margin of victory at the Euros, alongside 3-0 wins against Croatia in 1996 and Germany in 2000.

Head coach Fernando Santos was pleased with the way his side adapted to overcome their stubborn opponents as Portugal won their first game at a major tournament for the first time in six attempts.

"They kept putting two or three players on top of Cristiano," he told SIC Noticias. "Our strategy was not to cross, cross, cross. We had to look for different paths and we scored a goal, then Hungary started opening up some space.

"If we had scored earlier it might have been easier for us. We had chances to score but didn't, which caused a small period of anxiety, though we recovered well in the end by scoring the goals.

"It was a case of making Ronaldo more open because Guerreiro was getting stuck. Now we have two important games to come and we will try our best to get through this stage."

Hungary came within six minutes of taking a point off Portugal, but they are now winless in their past four games at the European Championship and have matches against France and Germany to come in an extremely tough group.

"I'm disappointed with the result," Hungary coach Marco Rossi said at his post-match news conference. "There wasn't much difference between the two teams. We didn't have luck today. 

"But we have to show that we're men. We are representing Hungary and we have two more equally difficult games ahead of us.

"We were happy with the game until the 83rd minute, but then the three goals came. Maybe it was my fault for taking too much risk. I'm not sad about the performance, but disappointed with the result."

It was all looking rather good for Hungary. The Magyars, who held Portugal to gripping 3-3 draw five years ago, looked to be doing something similar in their Euro 2020 opener. Just without the goals.

But Portugal, inspired by a hint of fortune, exploded into life and Cristiano Ronaldo took centre stage to show the doubters just how decisive he can be.

Fernando Santos' men sealed a 3-0 win with all of their goals coming from the 84th minute onwards, becoming the first side in European Championship history to net three times in the final 10 minutes of a game.

Raphael Guerreiro got things started, his effort taking a massive deflection of Willi Orban to finally end the resistance of Hungary, who themselves had a goal disallowed for offside only a few minutes earlier, and then Ronaldo took over.

With lively substitute Rafa Silva sent tumbling in the box by Orban, whose evening quickly descended into farce, Ronaldo stepped up to smashed the penalty beyond Peter Gulacsi in the Hungary goal.

He then rounded off a brilliant passing move with some outrageous play before tucking in Portugal's third – but that was just the tip of the iceberg on what was a momentous night for the Selecao's greatest ever player.

 

From frustration to flawless

Ronaldo flapped his arms around in dismay. Yes, you can picture it – you've seen it countless times before.

The game was just five minutes old when the Juventus superstar was screaming at Diogo Jota, who had opted for a 20-yard shot instead of slipping Ronaldo – in masses of space to his left – into the penalty area.

Given Ronaldo almost doubled up as Fernando Santos' assistant after being injured in the 2016 final, you had to wonder whether he would demand Jota be withdrawn immediately.

As it was, Jota stayed on and his presence again seemed a distraction just before half-time when he dangled a leg near Bruno Fernandes' smashed delivery, with Ronaldo only able to hammer over from a few yards out.

He didn't have another shot until the 87th minute – that's how quiet he was generally kept by Hungary's defence – but that next effort proved a historic one. As Ronaldo confidently drove his penalty past Gulacsi, he surpassed Michel Platini as the all-time leading scorer in the European Championship with 10 goals.

 

While the Frenchman got all nine of his in one tournament, Euro '84, and in just five games, Ronaldo has needed a little longer – this was his 22nd appearance.

But if reaching such a milestone with a penalty (we see you, users of the 'Penaldo' nickname...) wasn't going to be satisfying enough, he duly extended his new record with a lovely goal.

Ronaldo exchanged a glorious one-two with Rafa Silva, skilfully rounded Gulacsi and then tapped home – it was the kind of goal that could draw a hearty chuckle from anyone, so good was the build-up and subsequent composure from the veteran forward.

All 11 of his Euros goals have been from inside the box, though the record-breaker was actually his first successful penalty. His brace here means he now has four goals in the final 15 minutes of games, more than in any other period of matches.

His second goal also took a record from Andriy Shevchenko, as it made Ronaldo the oldest player to score twice in a Euros match.

 

More records on the way?

Don't expect this to be the last we hear from Ronaldo at this tournament.

More historic achievements and records are just a matter of a few goals away, and given his ruthless impact at the end on Tuesday, few would bet against him picking up where he left off next time.

Granted, Germany and France should prove sterner opposition than Hungary, but a player close to such records can be fancied to deliver the good against anyone.

His next landmark in sight is Miroslav Klose's haul of 19 in the World Cup and Euros – no European player has netted more at those tournaments, and Ronaldo is now just one behind him thanks to this brace.

But more importantly than that is Ali Daei's world record international haul of 109.

With two here, Ronaldo is now just three behind the former Iran striker, whose record looked insurmountable after his retirement in 2006.

It's only really been since he turned 30 that Ronaldo has looked likely to reach or surpass Daei. After all, his record since the start of 2016 for Portugal is 51 goals in 53 matches.

Perhaps we should have learned our lesson from watching Ronaldo over the years, however.. No goalscoring milestone is beyond him, it seems.

Cristiano Ronaldo made European Championship history on two fronts as Portugal staged a late show to begin their campaign with a 3-0 win over Hungary.

Also pitted against world champions France and Germany in the toughest group of the tournament, hitting the ground was viewed as key for Fernando Santos' side.

It looked as if they would fail to do that in front of over 60,000 fans in Budapest, but Raphael Guerreiro's deflected strike finally gave them the lead six minutes from time.

And then Ronaldo – who became the first man to play in five different Euros – took centre stage as he broke the tournament goalscoring record with his 10th goal in the competition proper, emphatically dispatching a penalty after Willi Orban had brought down Rafa Silva.

There was a final flourish from the Juventus star, who capped a wonderful move to take his tally to 11 in the second minute of stoppage time.

Cristiano Ronaldo is now the all-time leading goalscorer in European Championship history after netting in Portugal's Euro 2020 opener against Hungary.

Ronaldo went into the tournament level with France great Michel Platini but his penalty late on in Budapest to move his side 2-0 ahead put him out in front.

The Juventus star was making his 22nd European Championship appearance. Platini needed just five games to reach his nine-goal haul, all of which came at Euro 84.

Ronaldo has other records in his sights at this tournament as well.

His spot-kick against Hungary has taken him to within two of Miroslav Klose's record (19) for the most goals scored by a European player at the World Cup and Euros.

Though arguably even greater than that is the fact Ronaldo is now just four behind Ali Daei's world record of 109 international goals, the Iranian scoring those in a 13-year period from 1993.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo wants defending champions Portugal to make a statement in their Group F opener against Hungary as he prepares to make history at Euro 2020.

Ronaldo will become the first player to feature in five European Championships in front of a crowd of around 65,000 at the Puskas Arena on Tuesday,

The legendary Juventus forward needs only one goal to be the outright leading goalscorer in the competition, as he is currently level with Michel Platini with nine.

Portugal captain Ronaldo is also only one appearance shy of going out on his own as the European player with the most appearances at major tournaments - currently sharing a record of 38 with Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The 36-year-old says retaining the trophy is at the forefront of his mind and knows Portugal must make a strong start in Budapest, with France and Germany their other opponents in such a tough group.

He said: "I'm not overwhelmed. It's a good record but more important than this is to win back-to-back European Championships. The team is quite well and working great.

"Since our first training sessions, the team has been great and we are all ready. Tomorrow I hope we can start on the right foot.

"It's important that we start with a victory, the crowd will be on their side, but it's good to play in front of a crowd. We are going to enjoy this and, as I said, the team is ready."

Hungary led Portugal three times in a 3-3 draw at Euro 2016, Ronaldo scoring a second-half brace in a thriller.

The holders, who lost Joao Cancelo for the tournament due to a positive coronavirus test and replaced him with Diogo Dalot, are unbeaten in 13 games against Hungary - winning nine and drawing four.

Hungary should not be short of confidence, though, as they come into the tournament without being beaten in nine competitive matches.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Hungary – Willi Orban

Centre-back Willi Orban was Hungary's top scorer in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, with all three of his goals coming from set-pieces.

Among defenders, only Mats Hummels (129 for Borussia Dortmund) won more aerial duels than Orban's 108 for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga last season.

Portugal – Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes can have a huge say in whether Portugal retain the title.

The Manchester United midfielder created more goalscoring chances than any other Premier League player with 95 last season. He also scored twice and laid a goal for Ronaldo in Portugal's final warm-up game, a 4-0 rout of Israel.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Portugal are bidding to become the second team to win back-to-back, a feat also achieved by Spain in 2008 and 2021.
- Hungary were unbeaten in the group stages in their last appearance at the European Championship (W1 D2 in 2016).
- Portugal have failed to win their opening game in the past five major tournaments, drawing three times and losing twice. Their last opening game victory was at Euro 2008 against Turkey (2-0).
- The defending champions are the only team to reach the knockout stages of the European Championship in each of the previous six editions.

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo insists his sole focus is on Euro 2020 and reports of interest from rival clubs are causing him no "sleepless nights".

Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juve in 2019, but the move has not worked out quite as planned.

Although the Bianconeri won the Serie A title for a ninth successive season in the forward's first campaign, they lost their crown to Inter this term and scraped Champions League qualification.

Success in Europe's premier club competition, which Ronaldo won five times with Manchester United and Madrid, continues to evade the Turin giants.

A frustrating season ended with Massimiliano Allegri returning to replace Andrea Pirlo, and there has been speculation Ronaldo could follow his coach out of the door.

Madrid, United and Paris Saint-Germain have been credited with an interest in a player who continues to deliver superb individual results.

Ronaldo's 29 goals in 2020-21 won the Capocannoniere, having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Since joining Juve, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

The 36-year-old's 83 goal involvements rank fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

Those returns would surely interest a host of clubs, but Ronaldo is not looking any further ahead than the Euros, with Portugal starting their title defence against Hungary on Tuesday.

"I've been playing at the highest level for many years. This doesn't faze me at all," Ronaldo said ahead of the Hungary game.

"If I were starting out, if I were 18 or 19, I'd have some sleepless nights. But I'm 36 years old and whatever comes will be for the best

"Regardless of staying in Juve or being transferred, the crucial thing is the Euros. For me, it's my fifth Euros, but it's like my first. I want to start on the right foot and we want to play a good match."

 

Ronaldo holds the record for the most games (21), most goals (nine, tied with Michel Platini) and most tournaments with at least one goal (four) at the European Championship.

With 104 international goals, he is also closing on Ali Daei's benchmark of 109.

Adding to that tally in the group stage of Euro 2020 will be tough, though, with Portugal drawn into a pool with Hungary, France and Germany. They have not won their opening game at a tournament since Euro 2008.

But Ronaldo is confident his side are ready, explaining: "If you tell me that we're going to lose tomorrow and win the Euros, that's my choice.

"But I think the team is ready, physically and emotionally. Our players are young, but that doesn't prevent us from dreaming. I'm sure we will have a great tournament and I know, for sure, all the players are ready."

Only Spain, in 2008 and 2012, have previously won back-to-back European Championships.

"We are not the same team as we were in 2016," Ronaldo added. "This is a younger team, a team with great potential and only by playing will we know if we are better or worse than 2016.

"On a personal level, I'm not the same player I was 18 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago. We keep adjusting. The most intelligent thing about a football player is the ability to adjust.

"I'm more mature. If a player wants to play for many years, he needs to know how to adjust and adapt.

"The numbers speak for themselves; from 18 to 36, I've learned to adapt regardless of winning silverware.

"On a personal level, I've always been able to win. The same on a collective level, too. I think I've adjusted throughout my career."

Portugal have been dealt a blow ahead of their Euro 2020 campaign, with full-back Joao Cancelo testing positive for COVID-19 and Diogo Dalot called up.

Manchester City right-back Cancelo had an exceptional season for the Premier League champions, and looked set to be a key player for Portugal as they aim to defend their European crown.

Indeed, he scored one and set up another as Portugal ended their preparations with a 4-0 friendly win over Israel on Wednesday.

However, the 27-year-old returned a positive test on Saturday and has now been placed into isolation. Further tests carried out across the rest of the squad revealed no more positive cases.

In accordance with UEFA's rules for the tournament, Portugal have replaced Cancelo with uncapped Manchester United defender Dalot, who spent last season on loan at Milan.

"Under-21 international Diogo Dalot will join the national team's delegation in Budapest to prepare for his debut at Euro 2020," a Portugal statement read.
 
"He will replace Joao Cancelo, who tested positive for COVID-19 following a rapid antigen test carried out this Saturday by the FPF Health and Performance Unit.
 
"The Hungarian health authorities were immediately informed and the player – who is doing well – was placed in isolation.
 
"The result of the test carried out by USP was confirmed by an RT-PCR test carried out on Joao Cancelo also on Saturday and whose result was known on Sunday morning.
 
"In accordance with the COVID-19 protocol defined by UEFA before the EURO 2020 matches, all players and members of the entourage underwent RT-PCR tests on Saturday. The results, with the exception of Joao Cancelo, were negative."

Fernando Santos' side start their campaign against Hungary on Tuesday, before taking on Germany four days later and rounding off their Group F fixtures against world champions France.

Cristiano Ronaldo is still an elite talent who has no plans to slow down, according to new Roma boss Jose Mourinho.

Juventus forward Ronaldo has been linked with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain after his side failed to retain their Serie A title and struggled in the Champions League last season.

The 36-year-old himself, though, had another productive campaign, topping the Serie A goalscoring charts with 29 goals and finishing with 36 in all competitions.

Mourinho managed Ronaldo at Real Madrid and is now set to face him with Roma, unless his former player does indeed make a move.

"He should leave Italy now and leave me in peace!" Mourinho joked in an interview with talkSPORT.

"Everybody says, and I say the same, he is not 25 any more. He is 36 and he doesn't score 50 goals, but how many did he score? The record is [still] incredible, the numbers speak by themselves."

Ronaldo is preparing to play a part in Euro 2020 with Portugal as the country bid to retain their continental title which was won five years ago.

He will be just months from his 38th birthday by the time of the next World Cup in Qatar and Mourinho thinks that event is among many factors which have motivated the veteran to remain at the highest level.

Asked what drove Ronaldo on, Mourinho said: "I think records and he wants to not just play in this Euros but the World Cup.

"He is a legend, one of the big names that stays forever in football history, but the guy motivates himself with numbers and new things.

"He wants to win the gold ball X times, the golden boot X times, he wants to get the record from the Iran player for goals for an international team."

Mourinho does not think Ronaldo gets particularly angry by negative comparisons to Lionel Messi and feels he uses any criticism as fuel.

"I think critics motivate him," said Mourinho. "I think he feels, 'If people criticise me, it's because of who I am, I did what I did and I'll still try to do it'.

"He still gets that extra motivation. As an opponent, you should be quiet and not say a wrong word about him because that will always be motivation for him.

"He is the player everyone thinks he is and he is mentally very, very strong."

Ronaldo and Portugal start their Euros campaign against Hungary on Tuesday, with a strong start essential given France and Germany are also in Group F. 

But Portugal have failed to win their first game in the last five major tournaments, their last success in an opener coming at Euro 2008 against Turkey.

Ronaldo holds the Euros tournament record for most games (21), and most goals (9, joint with Michel Platini).

Predicting the winner of a major international tournament is a natural part of being a football fan, even if it can sometimes be something of a fool's errand – as proven by Greece and Denmark.

But considering how integral statistics are to football these days, using data could potentially give you the edge, and that's where Stats Perform comes in.

Our Artificial Intelligence team have used Opta's extensive data reserves to quantify each team's chances of winning the entire tournament.

Every match has been run through the Stats Perform Euros Prediction model to calculate the estimated probability of the outcome (win, draw or loss). This uses odds from betting markets and Stats Perform team rankings, which are based on historical and recent performances.

It takes into consideration the strength of each team's opponents as well as the difficulty of their respective paths to the final, plus the make-up of the groups and any relevant seedings heading into the knockouts.

Then, the rest of the tournament is simulated 40,000 times and analysed, providing the AI team with a percentage for each nation, showing the probability of them ultimately lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 11.

Without any further ado, let's check out the results, some of which may come as something of a surprise…

MOST-LIKELY WINNERS: France (20.5 per cent)

Well, this one probably isn't much of a shock. Anyone who has looked through the squad at Didier Deschamps' disposal has likely come to the conclusion that Les Bleus will have to implode a la the 2010 World Cup if they're to be beaten.

Most of the key players from their 2018 World Cup-winning squad are present, and now they can call upon the services of Karim Benzema again, which is no small thing.

 

Our model also gives France a 46.8 per cent chance of finish top of the so-called 'Group of Death', which also includes defending champions Portugal and a Germany side desperate for redemption after World Cup humiliation in Russia.

If France are successful, Deschamps will become the first man in history to win the World Cup and Euros as both a player and manager.

2. Belgium (15.7 per cent)

Could this be the last-chance saloon for Belgium's 'Golden Generation'? Our predictor model certainly suggests they're still in with a great chance of winning the title, with their 15.7 per cent the second highest.

They have the joint-oldest squad at the tournament (29.2 years) along with Sweden, so while they're certainly not a young team, several of their best players are right at the peak of their powers, with Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku coming into the tournament arguably in the form of their lives.

 

They looked sharp in qualifying – for what it's worth – with a 100 per cent win record and a 40-goal haul that wasn't matched by any other team, while they will be strong favourites to win their group ahead of Russia, Denmark and Finland.

3. Spain (11.3 per cent)

Now, one thing our model cannot take into consideration is a coronavirus outbreak. La Roja had to field their Under-21s for the senior side's final pre-Euros warm-up game against Lithuania – while it means nothing for their chances at the tournament, they did ease to a 4-0 win.

It remains to be seen if there are any further consequences of Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente testing positive for COVID-19, but if we assume Luis Enrique is able to rely on a squad that's more or less the selection he initially picked, they will at least be strong options to reach the latter stages.

Although perhaps not blessed with the kind of 'superstar' talent they've had at other tournaments over the past 15 years or so, they do have a highly regarded coach and beat Germany 6-0 as recently as November. Nevertheless, their disrupted build-up to the tournament could be telling when their campaign starts.

4. Germany (9.8 per cent)

Joachim Low's going to have to upset the odds if he is to enjoy one last hurrah with Die Mannschaft. The World Cup-winner coach is stepping down a year early after the Euros, with Hansi Flick set to take over.

Having the likes of Thomas Muller back in the squad after a stunning couple of seasons with Bayern Munich will surely improve their chances – though our model doesn't take player data into account.

 

The predictor will see that Germany have failed to beat Denmark and North Macedonia in two of their three most recent games, while they also have a particularly hard group.

5. Portugal (9.6 per cent)

The other major footballing power from the 'Group of Death' – our predictor suggests Portugal are the least likely of themselves, France and Germany to win Euro 2020.

Nevertheless, La Selecao will surely feel good about themselves heading into the competition. Their squad is arguably significantly better than the one that won Euro 2016, while coach Fernando Santos is a shrewd operator.

They also have this chap up front called Cristiano Ronaldo, who is one away from setting a new record for the most goals (10) in European Championship history.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

According to our predictor, a resurgent Italy and Netherlands are the next most likely to win the tournament, which would represent a rather good turnaround from missing out on the 2018 World Cup – in fact, the Oranje weren't at Euro 2016 either.

At this point there are probably many of you pondering – assuming you've not just scrolled straight down to the list – about England's chances.

Well, the Three Lions' ranking here is a prime example of how a good draw can really pay. While they should – in theory, at least – have more than enough firepower to get out of a group that also contains Croatia, neighbours Scotland and Czech Republic, their route to the final would almost certainly see them come up against one – or more – of Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. They're also probably not helped by the fact they've played more Euros games (31) without reaching the final than any other team.

England's 5.2 per cent chance of success sees them behind Denmark (5.4 per cent), whose path to the final would likely be a little kinder, though the caveat is that the Three Lions could potentially play the vast majority of their matches on home soil at Wembley.

Tournament debutants North Macedonia are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the least likely to win Euro 2020, with their chances rated at 0.02 per cent.

 

6. Italy (7.6 per cent)

7. Netherlands (5.9 per cent)

8. Denmark (5.4 per cent)

9. England (5.2 per cent)

10. Switzerland (2.3 per cent)

11. Sweden (1.5 per cent)

12. Croatia (1.0 per cent)

13. Russia (1.0 per cent)

14. Poland (0.8 per cent)

15. Ukraine (0.8 per cent)

16. Wales (0.6 per cent)

17. Turkey (0.4 per cent)

18. Czech Republic (0.2 per cent)

19. Austria (0.2 per cent)

20. Finland (0.1 per cent)

21. Hungary (0.1 per cent)

22. Scotland (0.1 per cent)

23. Slovakia (0.04 per cent)

24. North Macedonia (0.02 per cent)

Portugal boss Fernando Santos insisted his side have "many things to improve" despite securing a 4-0 win over Israel in their final pre-Euros warm-up game.

Bruno Fernandes got on the scoresheet either side of Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo strikes as the defending champions prepared for this summer's tournament with an emphatic win.

But, speaking after full-time, Santos shared concerns over elements of the performance, including a lull during the first half.

“The first part, not being extraordinary, was good," he told RTP.

"We did very well in the first 20 minutes, with great intensity in the various moments of play, circulating the ball well and looking for the flanks. 

"Then we had a quarter of an hour with less [urgency], but we accelerated towards the end and ended up scoring two goals."

The 66-year-old went on to reveal that he tried out a new tactical approach in the second period at Jose Alvalade Stadium.

But, while he didn't feel that his changes worked particularly well, the veteran boss struck a positive note ahead of Portugal's defence of their title starting against Hungary next Tuesday.

He added: "In the second I changed things a little, I tried to put one more man next to Ronaldo and two midfielders coming in from the inside, but it didn't work. 

"We started to miss a lot of passes and the ball circulation was not so good. There are many things to improve, certainly. 

"Now let's rest and calmly prepare for the Euros. This team has a huge will and an excellent team spirit."

Portugal warmed up for the start of the European Championship with a convincing 4-0 win over Israel.

In their final friendly game before the delayed tournament gets under way, Fernando Santos' side sent out a warning to their rivals with a dominant performance.

Bruno Fernandes was on target with a double, while there were also goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo to give Portugal a boost ahead of a Group F campaign that will see them face world champions France and Germany.

The Portuguese were at it from the first whistle, with Ronaldo producing an uncharacteristically weak shot after working space in the box less than a minute after kick-off.

And Diogo Jota was equally wasteful in powering a left-footed effort wide from a similar position before heading over a Cancelo cross shortly after.

But the hosts had their breakthrough just before half-time, Fernandes controlling Cancelo's low cut-back into the bottom-left corner.

The Manchester United man then turned provider, playing Ronaldo in behind for a powerful finish that squeezed through Israel goalkeeper Ofir Marciano to give the hosts a deserved 2-0 half-time lead.

Santos' men should have been three clear on the hour mark but Bernardo Silva fluffed his lines in attempting a dinked finish after being played in by Ronaldo.

However, Cancelo capped a good night for the hosts in the 87th minute as he cut inside off the right before powering a low left-footed shot home.

And Fernandes added deserved gloss to the scoreline with a wonderful strike from long range in injury time that left Marciano rooted to the spot.

What does it mean? Portugal in with a shout

Amid all the hype around the likes of England, France and Belgium, Portugal seem to be consistently overlooked as potential winners of this year's European Championship.

But the defending champions have a fine mix of experience and youth, the guaranteed goals of Ronaldo, and plenty of tournament know-how from 2016.

As they proved in dominating Israel here, they will be a force to be reckoned with in defending their crown.

Cancelo brings club form

Portugal aren't short of quality in forward areas but, if any opponent manages to somehow shut that down, it is good for the manager to know he has threats elsewhere on the pitch.

As he proved here, right-back Cancelo is one of them, the Manchester City man grabbing a goal and an assist as well as laying on three key passes.

Jota place under pressure

A two-game goalless run in a Portugal shirt hardly counts as a drought, but Jota will know he cannot waste chances as he did on Wednesday and hope to keep his place during the Euros.

The Liverpool forward failed to find the target with two big opportunities in his 45 minutes on the pitch and, with the likes of Joao Felix, Goncalo Guedes and Andre Silva behind him in the pecking order, is by no means a guaranteed starter.

What's next? 

Portugal get the defence of their title under way against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday. Israel, meanwhile, are without a competitive game until World Cup qualifying resumes in September.

Euro 2020 is just days away, and that means the rumour mill is about to go into overdrive.

International tournaments always represent something of a showcase for clubs seeking reinforcements and this year will be no different, even if the impact of the pandemic means spending may not quite reach levels of old.

There will be several players eager to impress at these finals: some will be long-term targets out to justify the hype, while others will be seeking a new challenge as contracts begin to wind down.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform has compiled a list of some of the candidates vying to be front and centre of this particular shop window...

 

Belgium: Jeremy Doku

One of Belgium's less-known attacking stars, Jeremy Doku was directly involved in 10 goals in the Jupiler League by the time he was 18 years and 115 days old, a record bettered only by Romelu Lukaku.

Previously wanted by Liverpool, the Rennes forward could become a target for Jurgen Klopp – thought to be exploring new attacking options – should he be given the chance to impress by Roberto Martinez.

Croatia: Bruno Petkovic

"Bruno Petkovic has to be at Euro 2020 what [Mario] Mandzukic was in Russia," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic last month. No pressure, then.

Still, the Dinamo Zagreb forward impressed in last season's Europa League with four goals in nine starts and could represent a relatively low-cost option in the market.

England: Jadon Sancho

The star performer as Borussia Dortmund won the DFB-Pokal final, Jadon Sancho was the first English player since David Beckham 20 years ago to register at least 10 assists for three seasons in a row in Europe's top-five leagues.

Manchester United continue to be mooted as the winger's most likely destination should he leave Dortmund, but a star turn at the Euros could trigger a bidding war among some of the biggest clubs.

France: Jules Kounde

Getting into the France starting line-up is no easy task these days, but Jules Kounde could well force Didier Deschamps' hand given the qualities he brings to centre-back.

An accomplished stopper, the Sevilla man is also impeccable on the ball: he made 887 forward passes in LaLiga last season, the most of any outfield player. Little wonder that Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been linked.

Germany: Florian Neuhaus

Given he has been linked with Bayern Munich for months now, Florian Neuhaus must be doing something right.

The 108th Germany debutant under Joachim Low, the Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder could well find himself in high demand in the transfer window should he earn a regular spot at the Euros.

Italy: Manuel Locatelli

The heartbeat of a vibrant Sassuolo side, Manuel Locatelli in January became the first Italian player born after January 1, 1998 to record 10 Serie A assists.

Juventus are considered his likely next destination, but there are reports of interest from the Premier League, which would likely only increase in number should he shine at the Euros.

Netherlands: Memphis Depay

It appears likely Memphis Depay will leave Lyon for Barcelona on a free transfer, but, as long as that deal is not concluded, other clubs may sense the chance to snap up the forward.

Depay just became the first Lyon player to register at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a single Ligue 1 season since at least 2006-07 and looks like one of the Oranje's form players.

Poland: Kacper Kozlowski

At just 17, Kacper Kozlowski has established himself in the Pogon Szczecin first team, something made all-the-more remarkable given he was badly injured in a car crash in January 2020.

Although a name not well known outside Poland, the midfielder has been scouted by Manchester United and interest across the continent could well pick up after this tournament.

 

Portugal: Nuno Mendes

Considered one of Portugal's brightest prospects, Nuno Mendes has already been linked with the Manchester clubs after shining for Sporting CP.

Interest in the 18-year-old is only likely to increase should he perform well at the Euros, especially if he ousts Raphael Guerreiro from the side, and Sporting would surely be prepared to sell for a handsome fee.

 

Russia: Denis Cheryshev

Zero goas in 21 games for Valencia in LaLiga last season underlined a frustrating spell for Denis Cheryshev at club level.

The 30-year-old was Russia's star performer at the World Cup three years ago, though, and the Euros offer a good chance to tempt any possible suitors as he considers his future.

Spain: Pau Torres

Pau Torres was at the heart of Villarreal's Europa League triumph. In fact, he made nine appearances without being dribbled past, a single-season tally only bettered twice in the competition's history.

The centre-back has made it clear he is happy at the club, but strong performances for Spain could tempt suitors including Manchester United to test Villarreal's resolve to keep him.

Sweden: Alexander Isak

Linked with Barcelona during the season, Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak broke Zlatan Ibrahimovic's record for most goals by a Swede in a single LaLiga campaign by scoring 17 in 2020-21.

With Ibrahimovic missing these finals due to injury, 21-year-old Isak has a good opportunity to impress on the international stage.

Switzerland: Denis Zakaria

With his contract expiring next year, Denis Zakaria could be a more affordable midfield signing for any clubs willing to tempt Borussia Monchengladbach into a sale.

The 24-year-old offers great variety to the Switzerland midfield and English sides are expected to be watching him closely at these finals.

Ukraine: Ruslan Malinovskiy

Ruslan Malinovskiy is another Atalanta player to catch the eye under Gian Piero Gasperini. He was directly involved in a goal every 94 minutes in Serie A in 2020-21, the most of any midfielder to play at least 15 times.

Now 28, this could be his best chance to secure a significant transfer should he decide to leave Bergamo, and there have been rumblings of interest from Chelsea.

Wales: Gareth Bale

With 11 goals in 10 Premier League starts in 2020-21, Gareth Bale registered the best minutes-per-goal ratio (84) of any of the competition's top goalscorers.

He is returning to Real Madrid following his loan at Tottenham and Carlo Ancelotti appears keen to keep him, but heroics for Wales could encourage suitors to bid.

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