Cristiano Ronaldo has rare off night for Portugal: Seven Deadly Stats from latest round of internationals

Aditya Devavrat 23:37 28/03/2018
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Cristiano Ronaldo's failing to score will always be a shock.

The last international break before this summer’s World Cup in Russia included some stellar fixtures, with Brazil’s 1-0 win over Germany to end the world champions’ 22-game unbeaten streak the pick of the lot.

Elsewhere, there were surprising results and some utterly shocking performances as teams looked to find their groove ahead of the summer.

Here are our Seven Deadly Stats from the latest international break.

IN-FORM RONALDO SILENCED

Nobody could stop Cristiano Ronaldo, at least not since the calendars turned over to 2018. So nobody would have backed a Netherlands team still reeling from their failure to qualify for the World Cup to not only silence the Portugal star but do so this emphatically.

The 3-0 win in Geneva was perhaps the most surprising result of this round of international fixtures. There was more to it than simply shutting down Ronaldo – Netherlands’ attack was unusually prolific – but their shackling of the Real Madrid star was impressive.

ARE PEOPLE SLEEPING ON SPAIN?

It’s not that nobody thinks Spain is a contender, or even one of the favourites. But at the moment Germany and Brazil would get most people’s guesses for who’s lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy in July.

Perhaps it’s because in the last two international tournaments Spain have crashed out despite having a more-hyped side. But their 6-1 win over Argentina was the continuation of some superb form since they were knocked out by Italy at Euro 2016.

Germany and Brazil may be the two likely candidates but Spain would fancy their chances against either in this form.

LUCAS TORREIRA’S PERFECT DEBUT

Lucas Torreira has forced his way into the reckoning for Uruguay with some excellent displays for Sampdoria, and his international debut couldn’t have gone better.

The young holding midfielder delivered a cameo that everything you could ask for from a player at his position, with his distribution completely perfect.

ARE YOU WATCHING, JOSE?

Paul Pogba isn’t in form. That’s what everyone’s been hearing for the last two months.

Someone forgot to tell him. His display against Russia was superb, as he and fellow young star Kylian Mbappe stole the show against this summer’s hosts. A stunning free-kick and a pinpoint through ball to find Mbappe meant Pogba hit a high he’d never hit for his national team before.

VAR HELPS ITALY END DROUGHT

It’s somewhat ironic that after all the VAR controversy in Serie A this season, Italy should benefit from its implementation.

Their penalty against England seemed soft at first and while plenty will still feel that way, replays showed enough evidence that the technology got the call right in calling James Tarkowski for a foul. It helped Italy not only avoid a loss to an experimental side, it helped them end a scoring drought that encompassed nearly four games.

SPAIN’S NEW STAR

Spain has had wispy passers who can find their teammates in just the perfect spot for what seems like forever, and there’s one more to add to that list.

Iago Aspas has been one of the best performers in La Liga over the last two seasons and he showed why Julen Lopetegui trusts him so much. His goalscoring form and ability to find the right pass means Alvaro Morata‘s chances of making the final World Cup are hanging by a thread.

NO MESSI, NO PARTY FOR ARGENTINA

As long as there’s Lionel Messi, there’s a chance for whichever team he’s playing for to win major honours. But Argentina showed just how much they need him on Tuesday.

In fairness the Barcelona man wasn’t the only star name who missed the 6-1 loss to Spain, but there was enough quality to avoid getting humiliated. The way they rolled over was a historic low.

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