Former Argentina great Diego Maradona believes Portugal are over reliant on captain Cristiano Ronaldo and that Croatia are favourites for their Last 16 clash.
Ronaldo was the hero for his side in the group stage as he netted twice in a dramatic 3-3 comeback draw against Hungary which saw the Portuguese edge through as a best third-placed team.
Maradona, however, believes the the side’s reliance on Ronaldo will count against them.
‘Portugal are too dependent on Ronaldo,’ Maradona wrote in Times of India.
‘He was brilliant against Hungary, but they are half the force if he doesn’t click and the tactically astute Croats will ensure he is low on supply. He may have to move around for space and chances of Portugal’s success hinge on how well he does that,’ Maradona added.
“They also have to plug holes in midfield and defence, because these are areas where mistakes may lead to elimination. Croatia start favourites,’ he claimed.
Fernando Santos’ men are yet to record a win in the tournament having drawn in each of their group stage matches.
‘The Croats are tactically sound like most European teams, who give nothing away in defence. The specialty of this bunch seems to be the ability to launch counterattacks at great pace with few touches.
‘It could be a different experience against Portugal, if Ronaldo’s team chooses to play a defensive game and waits to hit on the counter. Croatia have to look to create space in this case and unveil Plan B. With Modric and [Ivan] Rakitic in midfield, expect them to that,’ he concluded.