DOHA ( Associated Press) – Winning streak. Categorized with advance date. Cristiano Ronaldo has already signed one goal. Bruno Fernandes among the figures of the tournament. Better impossible for Portugal at the World Cup.
There is still one loose end to tie up.
Portugal need to pick up a point from their last Group H match against South Korea on Friday to secure first place. Such a seat would allow them to avoid meeting Brazil in the round of 16.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said, “If we face each other, it will be a match between two giants.” “But we and Brazil wish to see each other later.”
After Monday’s 2-0 win over Uruguay, Santos said he does not plan to rest many of his starters against South Korea. Cristiano may be the exception.
But three games in nine days could be too much for the 37-year-old striker who hasn’t picked up many minutes for Manchester United this season. The English club has terminated his contract for an explosive interview he gave before the World Cup in which he criticized the coach, owners and even his own teammates.
Cristiano did not train on Wednesday and limited himself to one session in the gym, showing the Portuguese prefers to save energy for the round of 16. It opens doors for Goncalo Ramos or Andre Silva to play in front.
“He will train today,” Santos said of Cristiano on Thursday. “If he is physically fit, he will play. I don’t even know if the chances are 50-50. It depends on our training session. I hope I can play.”
Portugal will also face the absence of centre-back Danilo Pereira, who broke three ribs in training last week, and left-back Nuno Mendes, who was substituted in the first half against Uruguay with a hamstring injury. Was kicked out of the tournament. Rest of the tournament…
If he makes it into the starting XI, Fernandes will be on the podium in Qatar for the third time and prolong his glorious moment. The creative midfielder scored both goals against Uruguay, with the first goal being celebrated by Cristiano himself, and provided some assists against Ghana.
Santos said he would take into account which players are tired and who have seen yellow cards to avoid risking a one-game suspension. Among those reprimanded are Ruben Dias, Ruben Neves, Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes and Danilo.
Santos said, ‘We have to use the team. “And I trust him.”
South Korea needed a win and a result that suited their interests in the Ghana–Uruguay game in order to join Portugal within the group.
A win for Ghana, second in the bracket with three points – three behind Portugal and two ahead of South Korea and Uruguay – would eliminate the South Koreans regardless of the result at the Education City Stadium.
Son Heung-min has yet to score for South Korea, which drew 0–0 with Uruguay and lost 3–2 to Ghana. But Son showed no difficulty playing with a protective mask after suffering multiple fractures in his left eye during a match for Tottenham in the Champions League.