His parting ways with Manchester United so close to the opener is said to have no repercussions. “This is something that has not been discussed until now,” said team boss Fernando Santos. “This topic has never been discussed, not even by him.” On Tuesday, the English record holder announced the termination of his contract with Ronaldo. His teammate Bruno Fernandes was unimpressed. “I don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t have to pick a side. We know nothing lasts forever. It was good as long as it lasted,” he said.
From the Portuguese point of view, it will be crucial if they can achieve high individual quality on the field. This has not necessarily been the case recently. In the last World Cup, as in the European Championships last year, the last stop was in the round of 16. Qatar ticket was only bought in the play-off match, in the Nations League currently ranked ninth in the world rankings missed promotion to the final tournament. After all, “Selekau” won the only pre-final friendly match against Nigeria 4-0.
Thursday 5 p.m
Portugal and Ghana
Doha, Stadium 974, Al-Fateh (USA)
Portugal: Costa – Cancelo, Dias, Pepe, Mendes – Neves, Carvalho – P Silva, Fernandez, Leao – Ronaldo
Ghana: Ati Ziggy – Lamptey, Amarte, Salisu, Baba – Abdul Samad, Partey – Ayu – Williams, Gyu, Kudos
At the 2016 European Championships, Portugal carried out the grand coup, but so far have failed to achieve this at the World Championships. The best result was third place in 1966. This year Santos believes his team can achieve success. “What can this team do? I will answer very simply: to become a world champion. I think it is possible, and the players believe in it too,” Santos said.
Mix of young and old
This must succeed with a mixture of young and old, and the team is led by Ronaldo, who wants at the end of his career to be crowned with a title that is perhaps the most important title in football. Next to him, the 39-year-old Pepe brings a lot of routine to the team. Both are backed by one of the best generations of players in Portugal. Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao, Joao Felix, Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva have made the Portuguese one of the best teams in the world on paper.
In the past few days and weeks, Ronaldo has made headlines off the pitch with his sensational interview and subsequent separation from ManUnited. At the World Cup, the five-time world footballer wants to let his actions on the field speak for themselves once again. The 37-year-old could become the first player to score in five different World Cups, adding to his record collection. For Ronaldo personally, winning the title in Qatar must surpass all these previous records and victories.
In the duel with Ghana, Portugal is the favourite. The only meeting between the two teams so far was in the 2014 World Cup. Ronaldo scored in the Selecao’s 2-1 win in the group stage.
Ghana is targeting the round of 16
Ghana is setting its sights on the knockout stages for the first time in 12 years. “We hope to reach the round of 16. We have a good team and we can beat anyone in our group,” said national team coach Otto Addo. However, this undertaking should not be easy for other opponents Uruguay and South Korea.
Ghana has lacked consistency over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, hardly any convincing performances made hopes for World Cup success look dim. But in the last test match, they were able to confidently win 2-0 against Switzerland, the World Cup participants.
Ghana’s performance will also depend on the key players. In addition to Arsenal legionnaires Thomas Partey and naturalized Inaki Williams, these also include the Ayew brothers. Captain Andre Ayew is on his way to making his 10th major trophy appearance, as his younger brother Jordan prepares to score crucial goals despite a lack of goals in the Premier League.
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