Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo let his team down with a missed penalty, and an elbow against an Iran player that could have easily resulted in a sending-off, but has enough fan goodwill stored up already, says RT’s Peter Schmeichel.
“It was a bad game for him. You very rarely see him this bad,” the former Denmark goalkeeper said when asked to evaluate Ronaldo’s performance, in which his missed spot kick had serious implications for Portugal’s tournament prospects.
But while the Iberian team will now face sturdy Uruguay, and not Group A runners-up Russia, Schmeichel believes that he won’t be judged as harshly as Lionel Messi, who didn’t score a penalty of his own in Argentina’s draw with Iceland.
“I think the difference is that Ronaldo has already scored four goals, he is already up there in the Golden Boot race, and Messi has done very little, and missed a penalty on top of that,” said Schmeichel.
Nonetheless, the pundit says that Ronaldo, openly motivated by personal records, will be particularly upset at missing out on a chance to go level with Harry Kane, who has scored five goals at Russia 2018 in just two games.
Despite the fact that Spain has played Russia three times in its history, and always won, Schmeichel warned not to write the hosts off following their 3-0 defeat to Uruguay.
“It going to be completely different,” said Schmeichel, noting that Russia's match will take place at the centerpiece Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. “Also, if they beat Spain the party will go on for two days!”