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It's good that Portugal are not favourites: Ronaldo

June 07, 2014 16:41 IST

It's good that Portugal are not favourites: Ronaldo

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Cristiano Ronaldo finally ended Lionel Messi's four-year reign as soccer's best player in 2013 and a starring role for Portugal at the World Cup finals would cap another stellar season for the astonishing forward.

The 29-year-old from humble roots on the island of Madeira is now a marketing phenomenon with almost 80 million followers on Facebook.

While he inspires a mixture of love and loathing among fans of all stripes, few would dispute he is one of the greatest goal-scorers to have played the game.

He became Portugal's top goal-scorer when two goals in a 5-1 friendly defeat of Cameroon in March took his tally to 49 in 110 games.

Despite the deluge of goals, he has sometimes been accused of going missing in the big games and he failed to score against Spain in the round of 16 at the World Cup finals in 2010 or in the semi-finals of Euro 2012.

However, after an erratic Portuguese qualifying campaign he single-handedly secured their berth at the finals in Brazil when he netted all four goals over the two legs of their 4-2 aggregate success against Sweden in November's playoff.

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Image: Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) warms up during a training session
Photographs: Mike Segar/Reuters

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Portugal have been drawn with Germany, Ghana and United States in Group G in Brazil and Ronaldo has said he will relish not playing under the same pressure he feels at Real.

Portugal's best result at a World Cup was third on their first appearance in 1966.

"We are not favourites which is good for us, it takes out a lot of pressure," Ronaldo said in March.

"We know that Spain, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, they are favourites, which is fantastic for us. But I am quite confident we can do it. We have a difficult group, in my opinion, and we are going to go step by step, game by game.

"The first game will be very, very difficult against Germany, but I believe we are going to have a fantastic World Cup, and without pressure, which is amazing."


Image: Cristiano Ronaldo (left) of Portugal stretches with teammate Raul Meireles as they practice
Photographs: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

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