Spain captain Iker Casillas and midfielder Xabi Alonso have both expressed their views on Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of their country’s Euro 2012 semi-final encounter with Portugal.
Casillas and Alonso will face their Real Madrid team-mate on Wednesday and while both bestowed glowing praise on their colleague Alonso was quick to dampen any danger of a preoccupation with Ronaldo.
“There is no anti-Ronaldo plan,” Alonso said. “We always play with the same idea, regardless of our opponent, even though we do study them. We try to be as close as we possibly can, as together as possible.”
He continued: “We are assured in how we want to play, how to work together, regardless of who we play against. The coach gives us freedom and that’s gotten us this far, and we will continue in that manner.”
Casillas acknowledged the quality of Ronaldo by naming him alongside Lionel Messi as the best player in the world, but said he feels the 27-year-old is still to hit top form in the tournament.
“I don’t think Cristiano is at his best right now because he had an incredible season at Real Madrid; games, goals and records,” Casillas said. “Cristiano is, along with Messi, the best player in the world.”
Alvaro Arbeloa will likely be charged with the task of shackling Ronaldo, but he will not be left alone.
Sergio Busquets said: “We all know what a great player Cristiano is. He'll spend a lot of time on Arbeloa's side, but you need to work together as a team to stop a player like him.”
Xavi said: “We have a great full-back in Arbeloa, who is among the best out there defensively speaking. We'll try to cover for him, to make sure Ronaldo doesn't settle and we don't let him turn.”