Beware of Ronaldo’s trickery, warns Mertesacker
GDANSK, Poland - Agence France-Presse
Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo is coming off a wonderful season with Real Madrid, where he scored 46 goals. AFP photoExperienced central defender Per Mertesacker has said Germany’s defense must be on its guard against Portugal’s “master of football trickery” Cristiano Ronaldo on June 9 in their opening Euro 2012 match.
Germany opens its Group B campaign against the Portuguese in Lviv, Ukraine, with Portugal star Ronaldo in outstanding form having scored 46 Spanish league goals for Real Madrid last season.
Despite having missed three months at the end of last season after surgery to repair ankle ligaments, Arsenal defender Mertesacker looks set to anchor the German back four and says only good teamwork can subdue Ronaldo’s silky skills.
“I think we have managed to nip in the bud any of Ronaldo’s efforts in past matches against Portugal,” said the center back at yesterday’s press conference after Germany beat Portugal at both Euro 2008 and the 2006 World Cup.
“We must try at all costs to avoid one-on-one situations with him, because Ronaldo is fast as lightning and he is the master of football trickery.”
‘Mesut Özil is equally dangerous’
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said Germany’s Mesut Özil is just as dangerous as his Real teammate Ronaldo, but admits the responsibility to subdue Portugal’s impressive attackers falls on the whole team to deny them possession.
“Mesut Özil has just as good a shot as his Real Madrid teammate,” said Neuer.
“I think all of Portugal’s forwards are dangerous and a force to be reckoned with, so we have to place the responsibility on all the players to defend well against them.”
As one of the favorites to win the final in Kiev on July 1, Neuer says it is imperative the Germans leave Lviv after a good victory to build momentum with Holland their next Group B opponents in Kharkiv, Ukraine, next week.
“I think it is vital to get off to a good start,” he said.
“Like at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, it was important we opened with a good win against Australia in Durban.
“If we get a good result some pressure will come off us, because it is always good to start with three points in the pocket.”