FIFA World Cup 2014: Portugal face uphill task against US
Manaus: Lingering doubts about the fitness of world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo have left Portugal in disarray ahead of their World Cup Group G clash with the United States here on Sunday. Already reeling from a crushing 0-4 defeat to Germany in their opener, Portugal face almost certain elimination if they lose to US. But their preparation for the game could not be going much worse.
Although the Portugal camp insist the Real Madrid forward is fit, Ronaldo has been seen sporting an ice pack on his knee at training sessions and leaving early as his team-mates continued to train, while he was far from his scintillating best against the Germans.
Much media speculation has focused on whether or not he will play against the US, or indeed if he does, whether or not he will be fully fit. But fellow forward Helder Postiga was adamant that too much is being read into an ice pack. “I personally think that the Cristiano Ronaldo talk is a bit too much,” Postiga said.
“But regarding his physical condition, he’s been training at his maximum and if it’s not listed in the clinical information of the Portuguese federation it’s because he’s fit to play.”
However, Ronaldo is just one of Portugal’s problems as they will be missing Real centre-back Pepe, suspended for one match after his stupid and needless red card against Germany for headbutting Thomas Mueller, who went on to score a hat-trick.
Fabio Coentrao has been ruled out of the tournament with a torn thigh muscle while forward Hugo Almeida has a pulled hamstring and reserve goalkeeper Rui Patricio pulled a thigh muscle. Yet Portugal coach Paulo Bento believes that his side are simply better than their opponents. “The best version of Portugal can beat the US.”
The US are not without problems of their own as striker Jozy Altidore is out with a hamstring injury.