Cristiano Ronaldo has been Portugal’s main man for nearly two decades but the veteran forward is a long way from peak performance before Friday’s Euro 2024 quarter-final showdown with France. Now 39 years old and playing his club football in Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo is showing his age in what must surely be his last major international tournament. Ronaldo’s goalscoring prowess has been the hallmark of an incredible career in which for years he vied with Lionel Messi for the crown of the world’s best player.

But he has failed to score a single goal in Germany and has not really looked like doing so in a series of displays which have added little to his country’s attacking output.

Coach Roberto Martinez has started Ronaldo in all four of Portugal’s matches in which he has set up a goal for Bruno Fernandes and done little else.

Ronaldo even put Portugal’s chances of qualifying for the last eight in jeopardy when he missed a penalty against Slovenia on Monday as the match finished goalless and went to a shootout.

Martinez said Ronaldo “paved the way” for Portugal’s eventual victory which set up Friday’s match with Les Bleus by smashing in the first spot-kick.

“It was a victory for unity, from the dressing room,” said Martinez. 

“Cristiano is our captain and he showed that in life and in football there are difficult moments and we can’t give up.

“We have to keep going and it was a demonstration of what to do when things aren’t going well.”

But regardless of the courage Ronaldo showed to take the first penalty so soon after missing, it has been clear for a long time he is no longer the magnificent player he once was.

Ronaldo had burst into tears after failing to score in extra-time, and, overcome with emotion, apologised to fans after netting in the shootout.

“First it was sadness and then it was joy, that’s what football gives you, inexplicable moments, a bit of everything,” Ronaldo said.

“I didn’t make a single mistake this year and when I needed something the most, Jan Oblak saved it.”

Ronaldo and Portugal will have to perform much better than they did against Slovenia if they are to get past an excellent French defence.

France’s backline excelled in keeping Romelu Lukaku and Jeremy Doku quiet in their tight 1-0 over Belgium in the last 16, and is yet to concede a goal in open play in Germany.

Ronaldo has scored more European Championship goals than anyone else with 14, is the tournament’s record appearance maker and is the only man to score in five straight Euros.

But he record-making days will be over if he is unable to find a way to click with his teammates, and Friday risks being a sad Euros farewell.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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