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Georgia boss Willy Sagnol talks up "awesome" Cristiano Ronaldo clash ahead of Euro 2024

Georgia boss talks up
© Reuters
Georgia head coach Willy Sagnol explains why he is looking forward to an "awesome" encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Group F of Euro 2024 this summer.

Georgia head coach Willy Sagnol is looking forward to an "awesome" encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Group F of Euro 2024 this summer.

The Crusaders are preparing for their first-ever major tournament after beating Euro 2004 winners Greece on penalties in the qualification playoffs to secure their spot in Germany.

Sagnol has spent just over three years in charge of Georgia, winning 16 of his 33 games at the helm, and his side are regarded as one of the rank outsiders heading into the 17th instalment of the European Championships.

Few are predicting Georgia, ranked 75th in the world by FIFA, to escape Group F that also included Euro 2016 winners Portugal as well as Turkey and Czech Republic.

Nevertheless, Sagnol - who earned 58 international caps for France, played at two European Championships and reached the 2006 World Cup final as a player - is hoping that his Georgia side can relish their underdog status in Group F.

Al-Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo during the warm up before the match on March 30, 2024 © Reuters

Sagnol's son "the biggest Cristiano Ronaldo fan on earth"

Sagnol is particularly looking forward to Georgia's third and final group-stage fixture against Portugal as one of his sons is a huge fan of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo.

Still going strong at the age of 39, Ronaldo is the all-time top scorer at the European Championships with 14 goals and heads into this summer's tournament - his sixth on the continent - in impressive form after netting 44 times in 45 games for Al-Nassr last season.

"One of my sons is, I believe, the biggest Cristiano Ronaldo fan on earth," Sagnol told UEFA.com. "So I know that coming up against Portugal makes my son happy and that's awesome as a dad. It's going to be a very tough group, though, as Portugal are a European powerhouse."

Assessing Georgia's other opponents in Group F, Sagnol added: "Turkey have been putting in outstanding work in the last few years, with new players coming in who are young and very talented. As for Czechia, they've had great players throughout history and have taken part in many tournaments.

"And finally, us, Georgia. Somewhat the wildcard, slipping into this tournament rather unnoticed. What's certain is that whether we're playing Portugal, Czechia or Turkey, we will never give up and give everything we have."

Georgia coach Willy Sagnol reacts on November 19, 2023© Reuters

Sagnol eyeing "top-level" improvements with Georgia

Sagnol believes that at lot has changed with the Georgian national team since his appointment in 2021, adding: "When I took charge it was a difficult period as we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the fact that Georgia had just been knocked out by North Macedonia in the [Euro 2020 qualifying] playoffs back in November 2020.

"We needed to start building up again, and heal our minds and hearts too because it was a major disappointment. It was as if a dream had ended. It took time.

"We developed the players' and everyone's perspective on football. We needed to change things round a little bit, to make everything a bit more in line with the top-level requirements. The players have been fantastic in this regard.

"They've been working for two or three years now, changing many things. Some of them have even changed everything in their way of approaching football. This is a reward for those lads too, as they've believed [in this goal] for a while now."

Georgia claimed a positive result in their one and only warm-up fixture ahead of their opening Euro 2024 clash against Turkey on June 18, as they beat Montenegro by a 3-1 scoreline on Sunday.

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Euro 2024 fixtures header
Sunday, June 16
Monday, June 17
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Tuesday, June 18
 
5pm
Wednesday, June 19
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Thursday, June 20
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Group Stage
Spain
vs.
Italy
Friday, June 21
 
2pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
Saturday, June 22
 
5pm
 
8pm
Sunday, June 23
 
8pm
 
8pm
Monday, June 24
 
8pm
 
8pm
Tuesday, June 25
 
5pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
 
8pm
Wednesday, June 26
 
5pm
 
5pm
 
8pm
 
8pm
Saturday, June 29
Sunday, June 30
Monday, July 1
Tuesday, July 2
Friday, July 5
Saturday, July 6
Tuesday, July 9
Wednesday, July 10
Sunday, July 14
Tables header RHS

Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Germany Germany11003
2 Switzerland Switzerland11003
3 Hungary Hungary10010
4 Scotland flag Scotland10010

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Spain Spain11003
2 Italy Italy11003
3 Albania national flag Albania10010
4 Croatia Croatia10010

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Denmark Denmark00000
2 England flag England00000
3 Serbia Serbia00000
4 Slovenia Slovenia00000

Group D

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Netherlands Netherlands11003
2 Austria Austria00000
3 France France00000
4 Poland Poland10010

Group E

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Belgium Belgium00000
2 Romania Romania00000
3 Slovakia Slovakia00000
4 Ukraine Ukraine00000

Group F

TeamPWDLPTS
1 Czech Republic Czech Republic00000
2 Georgia Georgia00000
3 Portugal Portugal00000
4 Turkey Turkey00000


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