Portugal could probably do without the additional baggage of the Cristiano Ronaldo saga – just as they get their 2022 World Cup campaign into gear. The team captain and all-time top scorer had his contract at Manchester United rescinded on Tuesday, just two days before their group stage opener against Ghana. And yesterday, the No.7′s off-field problems deepened further as he was hit with a $60,000 fine and two-game, club level ban for breaking a fan’s mobile phone fine. Portugal coach Fernando Santos however, says that none of that will have any bearing on the mood within the national team camp. “It’s something that has not even been discussed,” he told reporters. “This conversation has not come up at any moment, not even from him.”
Portugal vs Ghana: odds
Portugal are the bookies’ bet at -245 with most betting houses, Ghana are at +750 while a draw is priced at +330.
The two teams have only met once before – at the 2014 World Cup group stage in what turned out to be a close game, sentenced in the last 10 minute by a Cristiano Ronaldo winner.
Portugal vs Ghana: prediction
Fernando Santos’ Portugal is a mix of veterans, promising up-and-coming stars and players who are in their prime but one thing they don’t lack is experience. Most of the squad are established at their respective clubs in the major European leagues – players such as Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, André Silva and João Félix are household names who have shown what they can do at the top level. For old hands, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe meanwhile, this will be their fifth and fourth World Cup respectively.
There are also several familiar faces in the Ghana squad. Iñaki Williams, Jordan Ayew and Thomas Partey are three of the more well-known players among a group who are mostly competing at European clubs in the Premier League, Championship, Ligue 1 and LaLiga.
That’s a short enough price for a side that has won just three games across the last three World Cup tournaments and almost missed out on Qatar qualification entirely. Defeat to Serbia in the final round of group games meant that Fernando Santos’ side needed to qualify via the playoffs.
The now clubless Ronaldo will be looking to show the world that he’s not the shadow of his former self that he has looked domestically, and he’ll surely get chances with Bruno Fernandes and Bernado Silva pulling the strings in behind.
Portugal will miss influential Liverpool striker Diogo Jota but they they have a group of young players like Joao Felix, Rafael Leao and Nuno Mendes that should complement what is otherwise a very experienced squad. Whether Santos can get the best ouit of the group remains to be seen – many in Portugal believe he cannot.
What to know about the 2022 FIFA World Cup
The 2022 World Cup is being played in Qatar and runs through Dec. 18. It’s the first winter World Cup in the history of the entire competition. 32 of the top national teams will compete across 64 matches. Team USA will return to the tournament this year for the first time since 2014.
Portugal can get their Group H campaign off to a flyer against a Ghana side that have failed to win their last 7 matches in the FIFA World Cup.
The headlines are currently dominated by none other than global icon, Cristiano Ronaldo after his Manchester United career ended in a dramatic fashion.
But Ronaldo is really not troubled about the headlines, as his concentration is on the task at hand with Portugal in Qatar. Good performances on the biggest stage will automatically place him high on the shop window.