The men’s national football team of Portugal trained at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium last night, in preparation for tonight’s game against Iceland in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo, who expects “a tough match,” will play his 200th international match tomorrow.
Major milestone for Cristiano Ronaldo
Following a disappointing 1-2 loss against Slovakia on Saturday, Iceland’s men’s national football team currently sits fifth in Group J of the EUFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. The winners and runners-up from the ten groups will qualify directly to the final tournament, which will take place in Germany next summer (the other three qualifiers will come from play-offs based on last year’s Nations League: a total of 24 teams will compete in the finals).
Tonight, Iceland will face off against group leaders Portugal, who have won all of their three matches in the qualifiers. In preparation for the game yesterday, Cristiano Ronaldo fielded questions from the media at a press conference. He told reporters that he expected a tough game. “They [Iceland] have a very good team, in my opinion. They have a strong team. And, you know, when they play at home, it’s always tough to beat teams with their support, their fans, their stadium.”
Nonetheless, the Portuguese observed that he had full faith in his team: “I believe in our team. I believe in our players. We know what we should do on the pitch to score goals, and I hope that things go the way we want. I know it’s tough, I repeat. But I think Portugal, we should show that we have a better team than them.
As noted by RÚV, Ronaldo played his first international match on August 20, 2003, in a 1-0 victory over Kazakhstan. He was 18 years old. Tomorrow, some 20 years later, Ronaldo will make his 200th international appearance – a feat that no male footballer has achieved before – when Portugal faces off against Iceland at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium.
The Icelandic national team last competed against Portugal at the 2016 European Championship when the teams drew 1-1. The game marked Iceland’s first match at a major tournament. As noted by RÚV, Aron Einar Gunnarsson, Iceland’s captain, attempted to swap jerseys with Ronaldo after the game – but was rebuffed. At yesterday’s press conference, Aron was asked if he intended to make another go at it tonight.
“I think I’ll let it go,” Aaron said with a grin. “It’ll be his 200th international appearance so he’ll probably want to keep his jersey. So I think I’ll let it be this time.”