"I'm telling you, Ronnie, with my namesake and Rapha, you don't have to do it all on your own!" Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo (r.) can count on Andre Silva and Raphael Guerreiro (c.) at the rearranged UEFA Euro 2020. - © IMAGO / ZUMA Press
"I'm telling you, Ronnie, with my namesake and Rapha, you don't have to do it all on your own!" Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo (r.) can count on Andre Silva and Raphael Guerreiro (c.) at the rearranged UEFA Euro 2020. - © IMAGO / ZUMA Press

Andre Silva and Raphael Guerreiro: the players most likely to fire Portugal to UEFA Euro 2020 glory if Cristiano Ronaldo is off the boil


The sight of Cristiano Ronaldo limping out of the UEFA Euro 2016 final early doors was one of the most symbolic of the tournament, yet despite the collective anguish of an entire nation, Portugal's team rallied without their star No7 to beat hosts France and clinch the title.

Five years on, Portugal began the bid to defend their title with Ronaldo as influential as ever, but no longer the lone star Lusitano. Borussia Dortmund left-back Raphael Guerreiro and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Andre Silva are primed to share the load...

Guerreiro was already a key member of Portugal's 2016 championship-winning troupe, missing only the final group stage fixture against Hungary and the quarter-final win over Poland due to injury. In fact, it was his cross which set up Ronaldo to head Portugal in front in their semi-final win over Wales, with head coach Fernando Santos deploying him in a position he has since made his own in Dortmund – as an attack-minded full-back.

Watch: Raphael Guerreiro - Dortmund's humble hero

At his former club, FC Lorient, Guerreiro often started in a more advanced position, where he was a regular provider both of goals and assists. That caught the eye of Dortmund before Euro 2016, and they were keen not to let the rest of Europe catch a glimpse of his talent that summer, signing him up before the tournament began. His debut season in the Bundesliga was a continuation of his form from France, with six goals and five assists in 24 games, and while injury made 2017/18 a near-write-off, he came back even stronger in 2019/20, registering a career-best eight goals and three assists.

This term, Guerreiro's marauding runs down the left wing have been the source of four goals and eight assists. It was no surprise then that it was Guerreiro's 84th-minute effort against Hungary that broke the deadlock and greased the wheels on an eventual 3-0 tournament opening victory for his country. That proved to be a crucial three points for Portugal, and was their only win in Group F as they managed to secure their spot in the last-16 as one of the best third-place finishers.

While Guerreiro can guarantee plenty of ammunition, you still need some sharp-shooters to deliver the killer blows, and in Silva and Ronaldo, they do not come much more serrated. While Ronaldo ended the group stage as the tournament's top-scorer and the highest-scorer in European Championship history, only Robert Lewandowski boasted a better scoring rate in the Bundesliga this season than Frankfurt's Silva. Thus far, he has had to settle for two late cameos from the bench against Hungary and Germany, with Silva entering the pitch at 0-0 against the former and leaving it with a 3-0 win in the bag.

The 25-year-old has doubled his return from last season, plus interest, and supplied four assists for good measure. An ill-fated half-season in Italy's Serie A aside, Silva's career has been dominated by one currency: goals. It was the 16 he scored in his homeland for Porto that earned him a move to the Rossoneri in 2017, while he added nine in La Liga for Sevilla. His figures for Frankfurt are frightening, though, with 40 Bundesliga goals in just 57 games. He has scored at least once against 15 of Frankfurt's 17 current Bundesliga rivals, with Bayern Munich and Leipzig the only two yet to feel his full force (although he has provided an assist against both).

Watch: The best of Silva in the Bundesliga

With a further 15 goals in Europe and 16 in 41 caps for Portugal, and the tournament boiling down to its winner-takes-all final run, Silva remains a potential game-changing option at Santos' disposal as he looks to become the first coach to win the European Championship more than once.

If, like in that 2016 final, he has to do that with Ronaldo by his side on the touchline rather than on the field, he will nevertheless be confident of success thanks to Bundesliga duo Guerreiro and Silva – two key members of Portugal's promising present and bright future.