Euro 2024: Ronaldo set to start again as Portugal chases third win against newcomer Georgia

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Portugal is already qualified for the European Championship knockout stages and can sign off from Group F in style with a third win when it plays newcomer Georgia on Wednesday. Coach Roberto Martínez is keeping Cristiano Ronaldo in the lineup. A draw might give Georgia a chance at qualifying, depending on results elsewhere, but it’s likely to need a shock win. The kickoff in Gelsenkirchen — at the same time as group rivals the Czech Republic and Turkey meet in Hamburg — is 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT). Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts

— There will be scrutiny of Euro 2024 security after no fewer than six different fans invaded the field or tried to seek selfies with Ronaldo at Portugal’s 3-0 win over Turkey. Four of them reached Ronaldo. UEFA said on Sunday it increased security but there was another fan on the field on Monday as Spain beat Albania 1-0. “This is dangerous and it’s not good for football,” Portugal coach Roberto Martínez said in translated comments Tuesday.

— On its major tournament debut, Georgia has won praise for its battling style of play and nearly beat the Czech Republic in its second game if not for a last-second miss. Beating Portugal would be a huge upset and would guarantee Georgia a spot in the round of 16.

— Georgia will know before kickoff if a draw will potentially be enough to qualify as one of the four best third-place teams, or if only a win will do. If Georgia draws, it would still require the Czech Republic to lose against Turkey, though.

Team news

— Martínez hinted at big changes Tuesday but said he’s keeping Cristiano Ronaldo in the lineup along with goalkeeper Diogo Costa. “It’s important to keep the competitive levels. It’s not good to start and stop,” Martínez said.

— Georgia’s star forward Khvicha Kvaratskhelia said Tuesday he was “dreaming” of facing Ronaldo at Euro 2024 and hopes to get his shirt.

— Portugal forward João Félix, who was an unused substitute in the first two games, could see his first action of Euro 2024. He handled squad media duties Tuesday ahead of the game.

— Georgia midfielder Otar Kiteishvili missed the first two matches amid fitness concerns but is available to face Portugal, coach Willy Sagnol said.

By the numbers

— One of the records the 39-year-old Ronaldo can break is that of oldest ever goal-scorer at the European Championships. Croatia’s Luka Modric scored on Monday at age 38 against Italy to set a new record.

— Two more milestones for experienced Portuguese players: Ronaldo can play his 210th international game and 41-year-old Pepe can play his 140th.

— It’s 18 years since Ronaldo and Sagnol last faced off at a major tournament in Germany. Sagnol was the right back on the France team which beat Ronaldo’s Portugal 1-0 in the 2006 World Cup semifinals.

What they’re saying

— “It’s clearly an annoying situation, both for us and for our opponents. It worries us, we’ve already made the statement and let’s hope that the situation improves in the next games, so that the football is richer.” — Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa on fans invading the field.

— “The Georgian fans should expect more from me because I haven’t done the maximum I can do. And I will try to show that in the match versus Portugal and hopefully I can assist the team to gain a victory.” — Georgia star forward Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.


AP Euro 2024:

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