DOHA ( Associated Press) – Cristiano Ronaldo is in the spotlight as he makes his fifth and perhaps last World Cup start with Portugal.
The 37-year-old striker has been without a team since Tuesday night when Manchester United terminated his contract following an explosive interview in which he criticized manager Erik ten Haag, the club’s owners and several of his teammates.
Cristiano doesn’t seem to have a new team in sight, so his performance in Qatar could be enough to persuade his potential new owners to take a call on him. Having been voted the best player in the world five times, he may have passed his prime, but he is still one of the deadliest finishers around.
Prior to the announcement of his mutually agreed departure from United, he insisted that club-related matters would not affect his performances for Portugal at the World Cup and disrupted the atmosphere in the national team ahead of their Group H opener against Ghana. will not do. , 974 Stadium in Doha on Thursday.
But this could change now. Winning his first World Cup in Qatar may be motivation enough for Cristiano, but impressing a potential new club would be a nice boost.
“Nothing will shake this team,” the Portuguese ace said at a press conference in Doha this week.
It could do a disservice to Ghana.
The African team is in the worst position of 61st in the FIFA World Cup rankings, and begins with the fewest options in a group that also includes Uruguay and South Korea.
But Saudi Arabia has already shown that anything is possible in this tournament after beating Leo Messi’s Argentina against all odds on Tuesday, and Ghana were already on the verge of reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2010. Unless the Uruguayan got a hand from Luis. Suarez stopped it.
The Black Stars boast some notable names such as Thomas Partey, the midfield anchor for Premier League leaders Arsenal; and Mohamed Qudus, who has scored regularly for Ajax in the Champions League this season.
Portugal start as favorites and their coach, Fernando Santos, has plenty of options in attack, midfield and defence, as well as experience having led the team to the Euro title in 2016.
But concerns remain about whether Santos is too practical, given the talent at his disposal, but he remains a popular choice as a selector eight years after signing. The coach has shown he is not afraid to make tough decisions after Cristiano was left out of the starting XI for “strategic reasons” in the Nations League against Spain in June.
There is little chance of doing it again in the first game in Qatar, even if Cristiano’s mind may be elsewhere, given the turmoil in his career in the past week.