Cristiano Ronaldo labeled the whipping boy again, as Portugal crash out of Euro 2012

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(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

There are few stars in the world that get poked and prodded again and again for failing to come up big in massive moments for their club or country than Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.

In 2008 he failed to make a penalty for his former club Manchester United in the 2008 UEFA Champions League final against English Premier League rivals Chelsea. Luckily for him the Blues John Terry returned the favor.

Unfortunately for Ronaldo that was not the first time that he came up short, as he has done so on multiple occasions since, for both his clubs and his country.

With Ronaldo having failed to even step up to the penalty spot for his nation in Wednesday June 27th, 2012’s crucial semi-final match against Iberian rivals Spain, it is hard to see how he once again has not failed his nation.

However, it is truly not the case the he has failed Portugal. He and the fans will be gutted that he did not score for them in the shootout and send the nation through to the Final. But, he is not truly the one to blame.

Ronaldo could have stepped up at any point, but he saved himself for the fifth and typically most crucial spot in a shootout. But, he unfortunately did not get his go at the net. With the shootout level at 2-2 heading into the fourth shooter it was in mixed opinion that he pushed himself back to the final spot.

Overall, it’s an embarrassing situation for Portugal. The club’s best player didn’t take a penalty shot in what easily could have been the most important in the team’s history. There will be finger-pointing and questions asked for quite some time about the decision.

But, in reality it is not all on the shoulders of Ronaldo. Should he have stepped up and taken an early shot and set the tone with a goal for Portugal, yes. Should he have stepped up and taken the shot once Portugal were down 3-2, yes.

However, can you blame him for having faith in a teammate to deliver and bring Portugal 3-3, no. As the team captain is it not only his responsibility to take charge, but also have faith in those around you and instill confidence in them just as in yourself.

The unfortunate fact is that he made himself look poorly, and almost like a coward for not stepping up, when in reality all he was trying to do was set his nation up for their best chance to seal a victory in the fifth round of kicks or keep them in it.

Having been knocked out, he will once again be looked on as the start that is right behind Lionel Messi as clutch in big moments, rather than as the player that won the 2008 Ballon d’Or and could have been the frontrunner for the award in 2012-13 if Portugal had found their way past Spain.

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