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Club allegiances do not take time off for summer and the same supporters that sat disgruntled in the season as their team’s players could not get past Ruben Dias have now been revelling in his average performances for an uninspiring Portugal team.
Despite being stacked with superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo & Co laboured to an opening victory over Hungary in the European Championship before failing to win any of their next three matches to suffer a forgettable last-16 exit.
Dias, it has to be said, did not sparkle. Portugal conceded four to Germany and two to France in the group, even if they could only watch and admire Thorgan Hazard’s wonder strike that ultimately dumped them out of the competition.
It wasn’t just the stats either; those inside the stadiums for the fixtures did not see or hear the commanding leader that almost single-handedly and instantly transformed Manchester City’s defence last season to provide the platform for them to streak away with another Premier League title.
That has been enough for some to write off Dias’s achievements since moving to the Blues, as if an entire campaign of reliable excellence can be attributed to luck rather than skill. Some on Merseyside predictably waded in claiming that the 24-year-old was not good enough to be compared to Virgil Van Dijk, despite coming in and managing extremely similar things.
Of course, Dias is far from the only elite player to have struggled in the tournament. United talisman Bruno Fernandes was dropped from the Portugal team after his sub-par performances, while Kylian Mbappe was guilty of several costly misses as France suffered a surprise defeat to Switzerland in the knockouts – including the decisive failure in the penalty shootout.
Such is life at the top, where all the good you do is scrutinised through partisan glasses and those same critics come to the surface whenever you fall below your level. The Euros and the Champions League final may not have been the ending Dias wanted to his exemplary season, yet the good thing about football is there are always other opportunities.
After a few weeks to rest, the Portuguese centre-back can return to the City Football Academy refreshed and ready to prove his level all over again.
It remains to be seen whether he will be able to show longevity and stretch his impact into a second season of excellence in England, disappointing and silencing those who have rubbished him based on a few games in the last month. But City remain confident enough in his abilities that Pep Guardiola will retain him as his No.1 centre-back in the team, ready to lead from the back again and frustrate even more forwards in his search of clean sheets.