Portugal will still count on Ronaldo

Ronaldo is the main man, always. PHOTO/AFP 

What you need to know:

The support cast that features United’s Bruno Fernandes, Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva and Wolves’ Ruben Neves is impressive for Ronaldo and Portugal. Veteran Pepe continues to command in defence with Ruben Dias, Nuno Mendes and Joao Cancelo.

There is no running away from the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo will remain the talk in football circles for some time.

What started as a fallout with his club Manchester United after that interview with Piers Morgan ended with the two parties going separate ways.
 
Next topic will be about where Ronaldo goes after the World Cup in Qatar. The goal machine has already warned the media to stop asking his teammates about him.

All that must be put aside, though as Portugal get their campaign underway in a clash with Ghana today. Most relevant topic would be whether Ronaldo merits a starting place in this Portugal side.

That has never been a question throughout his career but those days are long gone. He will start because he is Ronaldo but also because the options are not that many for head coach Fernando Santos.
 
Andre Silva has found the going tough since joining RB Leipzig, Joao Felix has had a difficult season with Atletico Madrid while Rafael Leao looks good as a wide forward, not a central one.

The most obvious replacement would have been Diogo Jota but he will miss the World Cup through injury.
 
So, Ronaldo will and should start. He has earned the faith of the coach with his track record, and with Portugal’s creativity, if balls are put in the right places, he will get the goals.
 
The support cast that features United’s Bruno Fernandes, Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva and Wolves’ Ruben Neves is impressive for Ronaldo and Portugal. Veteran Pepe continues to command in defence with Ruben Dias, Nuno Mendes and Joao Cancelo.
 
Will Ghana be able to stop the 2016 European champions in Group H’s opener? On paper, the African side has a team to compete but results have been hard to come by since qualifying for Qatar.
 
Brighton right-back Tariq Lamptey, Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey, Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu, Leicester defender Daniel Amartey and Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew are some of the top names in the Ghana side.

Frontman Inaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao and Ajax star Mohammed Kudus are the others. The players are there but Ghana’s underwhelming performance at the AFCON, where they failed to make the knockout stage, left more questions than answers.

Otto Ado’s charges, however, cannot be summarily dismissed. The talent is available in plenty, they just need to turn up at the biggest stage in world football.

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