Ronaldo talk dominates Portugal vs Ghana build-up

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Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano RonaldoBruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo have played alongside each other for Portugal and Manchester United
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Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes says it was a "dream" to play with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United but "nothing lasts forever".

Ronaldo's contract with United has been mutually terminated.

Portugal begin their World Cup campaign against Ghana on Thursday and Fernandes says the players have not been distracted by Ronaldo's situation.

"We haven't discussed the topic - we are all focused on the national team and the World Cup," said Fernandes.

Ronaldo's United exit follows a controversial interview in which the 37-year-old criticised the club and said he had "no respect" for manager Erik ten Hag.

Fernandes added: "You know how important playing for Portugal is for Cristiano and for all of us. It is the dream of every player. Our focus is 100% on the national team and we are all aware of what we have to do.

"I don't feel uncomfortable. It was a privilege to play with Cristiano and a dream at the club. Cristiano has always been an inspiration for me, it was a dream to be able to play with him at Man Utd, but we know nothing lasts forever.

"It was good while it lasted but we have to respect his decision, regardless of us agreeing or not.

"We know it might be difficult to make decisions but these must be for the best of our families."

Fernandes' comments were echoed by Portugal boss Fernando Santos, who said: "It [Ronaldo leaving Man Utd] is something that hasn't even been discussed. No comment about that in our time together. There has not been the conversation at any point.

"The players have time for themselves to do whatever they want, but they know have to be focused to try to win this competition.

"You have seen what happened in the first few games with big surprises. The legacy is us, that is critical."

'It's not our problem'

Ghana finished bottom of their group in the African Cup of Nations earlier this year, but qualified for the World Cup after a win over rivals Nigeria in qualifying.

Coach Otto Addo says his side's opponents will not be affected by Ronaldo's situation as "everybody wants to win".

"I don't care, it's not our problem and I don't think it's a big problem," Addo said.

"Everybody wants to win and we're at World Cup level, I don't think this can disrupt anybody."

Ghana captain Andre Ayew also admitted Portugal would be favourites for the opening Group H game.

"As my boss said it's not really our problem what's happening in the Portuguese team, they are great professionals, playing for top teams, they will be ready for the World Cup," said Ayew.

"Portugal are the ones who are favourites on paper, we have to show on the field, that on paper is not what will happen on the pitch."


Ronaldo had been dealing with an illness and missed Portugal's last warm-up game against Nigeria, but is expected to be available to face Ghana.

Ghana rested some of their more experienced players in the recent warm-up win over Switzerland, but are likely to welcome back the likes of Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey.


At number 61 in the world, Ghana are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and this is a difficult game for them to kick off with.

Portugal have got some world-class players in their squad but I am not sure how things will fit together with Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been in awful form for Manchester United and has thrown his toys out of the pram. He seems to be blaming everyone else for that, rather than himself.

At 37, Ronaldo is not the player he once was, but he will be desperate to perform well at this World Cup after what has happened in the past few months.

He loves to be the centre of attention but now he has to let his football do the talking, which he hasn't done this season.

Prediction: 3-1

Chris Sutton's predictions for the opening round of World Cup games


  • Portugal and Ghana's only previous meeting was in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup. Portugal won 2-1, with a Cristiano Ronaldo winning goal
  • Portugal are winless in their last three opening games at the World Cup. (D2 L1)
  • Should he play, Ghana captain Andre Ayew will have appeared in more World Cup matches (8) in the competition than any current player for African nations (currently 7)
  • Ghana will make their fourth appearance at the World Cup. They have failed to progress past the group stage only once before - in their last appearance in 2014
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