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Cristiano Ronaldo rising; Player of the Tournament stuff?

Post-Match Press Conferences - Czech Republic v Portugal, Quarter Final: UEFA EURO 2012

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 21: In this handout image provided by UEFA, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal receives the man of the match award after the UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final match between Czech Republic and Portugal on June 21, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)


Things can change fast during a major international tournament. For instance:

Yesterday I wrote that Mats Hummels was making a bid to be player of the tournament at Euro 2012. I know lots of soccer fans grow anguished expressions at suggestions of center backs as “player of tournament” material, but it’s not such a rare occurrence.

Anyone remember Fabio Cannavaro and his defensive dominance at World Cup 2006, an absolute master class of defensive positioning, timing, technique and composure? Going further back, Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and England’s Bobby Moore made significant impact at World Cups.

Still, I get it: center backs aren’t so sexy. Not as much as, say, a certain handsome Portuguese do-all winger.

Cristiano Ronaldo may yet make this his tournament. And he may even add a new layer of context to the fluid Messi-vs.-Ronaldo debate, the one that keeps asking us to re-consider our thoughts on the world’s top player.

Ronaldo was dominant Sunday against Netherlands as he guided the Portuguese safely out of group play. The pride of Real Madrid was at it again Thursday, heaping misery all over the Czech Republic, which could only sit back in defensive stacks and hope to contain the damage.

This writer sure seems to be making the case that Ronaldo is emerging as man of the Euro moment. It’s still early, and things can and do change. But if Ronaldo and those electric feet of his can do enough next week to blow by Spain or France and into the finals …