Portugal hoping Ronaldo can continue his good form in Russia


The team qualified for the World Cup in a 2-1 victory against the United States last November, and will make its Confederations Cup debut on Sunday.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo attends a training session at the Rubin Training Ground in Kazan, Russia.

The Portugal coach, Fernando Santos, and the striker André Silva have defended Cristiano Ronaldo, with Silva insisting his team-mate and captain is focused on the Confederations Cup, despite tax fraud accusations and fresh transfer speculation this week.

France 2016 may have quenched Ronaldo's thirst for worldwide success, but Russian Federation gives him the opportunity to claim yet another trophy and further embellish his status as one of the world's greatest players.

Mexico's Carlos Vela, left, celebrates with teammate Mexico's Hirving Lozano after scoring his team's first goal against the US during their World Cup soccer qualifying match at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Sunday, June 11, 2017.

It is not just Ronaldo they will need to stop though - winger Bernardo Silva, who missed Euro 2016 through injury, is fresh from winning the French title with Monaco and sealing a big-money move to Manchester City.

Ronaldo, not surprisingly, began the match up top where he was joined in attack by Sporting Lisbon winger Gelson Martins and new AC Milan recruit Andre Silva, who recently joined the Rossoneri for 38 million euros from Porto.

With Ronaldo looking at the peak of his game, Portugal trained for the first time in Russian Federation on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) ahead of its Confederations Cup debut against Mexico on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). I had the opportunity to align some players to see what value they have.

Every competition needs a star player, and this Confederations Cup is already benefiting from the reflected glow of Ronaldo's presence.

Incredibly, the 32-year-old's remarkable run of success could well be extended into July, what with Portugal one of the favourites to win the Confederations Cup, which begins today in Russian Federation.

Silva has been compared to a young Fernand Torres, the former Spain striker now playing for Atletico Madrid. "I would put my hands in the fire for [Ronaldo's] character and integrity, as a person and as an athlete", he said. "He's been playing this game for several years, I'm just starting".

"This is another great competition for us after 2016, and I think the ambitions are again to win the cup".

Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in his last 11 matches, including two in Portugal's 3-0 win at Latvia in a European World Cup qualifier last week, the team's last match before the Confederations Cup opener against Mexico.

Speaking ahead of their clash at the Spartak Stadium, Broos said: "We know we will be playing an excellent team". Julian Draxler is arguably the most experienced player in the squad at age 23, so it will be fascinating to see how they line up in Russian Federation.



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