The spotlight is on Cristiano Ronaldo once again as Portugal’s golden generation look to create history


Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to play his fifth FIFA game Globalism The Portuguese Cup will be desperate to win the global event for the first time in history. The European giants have been one of the most developed teams in the past decade, also winning two major titles – Euro 2016 and UEFA Nations League 2019. Ronaldo has been an inspiring figure in the Portugal national team, but this time he will enter the tournament with some added pressure. Just days before the World Cup, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner gave an explosive interview to Piers Morgan, which sheds light on all the wrong reasons. The 37-year-old criticized the owners of his current club Manchester United – The Glazers and coach Erik Ten Hag. He also criticized his former teammates Wayne Rooney and Gary Neville who have criticized him in the past few months for his behavior on the field and his underwhelming form.

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It was expected that Ronaldo and Manchester United announced their separation in a quick manner. He will be looking for a new club and the World Cup in Qatar will be a kind of test for him. He is inarguably one of the best players to ever play the game, but the aging star has not been at his best this season and has struggled to find the back of the net which he has been used to doing in the past.

This is probably the best chance for Portugal to get the World Cup. It is the golden generation with players like Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandez, Joao Cancelo, Robin Dias, Joo Felix and others. They have a great leader in Ronaldo to follow who has done it on the big stage many times in difficult situations both club and international.

Manager Fernando Santos has put together a strong team with good depth in all departments but in the last couple of years, they have found it difficult to get out of sticky situations.

Overreliance on Ronaldo has cost them on many big occasions including Euro 2020 and the World Cup qualifying round. They were on the verge of being knocked out of the qualifying round itself and eventually had to play in the play-off to qualify for the tournament.

They have an experienced glove in Rui Patricio who has been a mainstay for them for the past several years.

In the defensive department, Santos has several options and it will be crucial for Ruben Dias to emulate his Manchester City team in the defensive line with national colors as well. While still old school Pepe is a pivotal part of Portugal’s defence. Joao Cancelo has emerged as one of the best defenders in the world at the moment under the guidance of Pep Guardiola at City. The 28-year-old has been known to deliver the assists from behind to add creativity to the Portuguese side. He is well equipped with some amazing skills and amazing speed to beat the other players. Diogo Dalot is another talented full-back in the squad and is expected to partner Cancelo.

Cristiano Ronaldo, center, prepares with his teammates during official training for Portugal. (AP Photo)

In midfield, having a player like Bruno Fernandes should be a boon for any team, but Portugal failed to get the best out of him. Bruno looked like a completely different player in the national colors than he did for United. He must be present often in Qatar to help the navigators win the prestigious trophy.

Santos will have to make a call regarding Bernardo Silva’s position in the lineup. The Manchester City star has been one of the best dribblers in the world of recent times, and Guardiola has used him as a winger and linebacker, and he has performed well in both positions. He brings a lot of quality to the team with his creativity.

While they have other options such as Ruben Neves, William Carvalho and young Paris Saint-Germain star Vitina to form their midfield.

The Navigators will miss the services of Diogo Jota who has been ruled out with a calf injury. He has been a key part of the team’s attacking line and has linked up well with Ronaldo on several occasions, but the 37-year-old will have to find a new partner to light up Qatar.

While his absence could open the doors for Andre Silva and Joao Felix to get a place in the starting line-up alongside Ronaldo.

Santos will have to abandon their old tactics in this tournament because relying on Ronaldo to get the job done will not help them secure the World Cup. If they play in the same style, it could handicap several other notable, younger talents in Portugal’s squad.

Meeting Piers Morgan may have felt a huge relief for Ronaldo because a huge burden was on his shoulders to enter the tournament, but now he has some added pressure to prove himself at the age of 37.

Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (Porto), Jose Sa (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Rui Patricio (Roma).

Defenders: Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Antonio Silva (Benfica), Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain), Rafael Guerrero (Borussia Dortmund).

Midfielders: Joao Balinha (Fulham FC), Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Mario (Benfica), Mateus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Vitinha (Paris Saint-Germain) William Carvalho (Real Betis), Ottavio (Porto).

Attackers: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafael Leao (Milan), Ricardo Horta (Braga), Goncalo Ramos (Benfica), Andre Silva (Leipzig).

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