after two days troubled departure from Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo He will start his work world Cup His career with Portugal and we look forward to putting the events of the past week and a half behind him.
Portugal faces Ghana at Stadium 974 on Thursday, kicking off what is likely to be the World Cup final for the 37-year-old Ronaldo – a title that has so far eluded him over the course of his decorated career.
A successful tournament in Qatar will also allow Ronaldo to move on from his messy divorce after United ended his second spell at the club on Tuesday.
This came after he gave the attacker An explosive interview with Talk TV in which he said he felt betrayed by United and launched a scathing attack on manager Erik ten Hag.
And with the World Cup underway, so does Ronaldo Confirmations offered That the focus of his Portuguese colleagues will not be affected by the timing of his surprise interview.
“The best timing of my life is always the timing,” he told reporters on Monday. “I don’t have to think about what other people think. I speak up when I want to. The players have known me really well for many years and they know the kind of person I am.”
After announcing his departure from Manchester United, Ronaldo was banned for two matches and fined £50,000 (about $60,000) by the English Football Association (FA) for slapping a cell phone from a spectator’s hand earlier this year.
The incident came after United lost 1-0 to Everton in April. On top of the fine and ban – which does not apply at the World Cup but will be carried over to any new club he joins – the FA warned Ronaldo about his future behaviour.
Portugal are the favorites ahead of Ghana, with a 52-place gap between the two teams in the FIFA rankings.
But pedigree and star strength don’t seem to count much in this World Cup, a tournament in which underdogs have done well against stronger opponents.
Kingdom Saudi Arabia He came from behind to beat Argentina 2-1 while Japan did the same against Germany – clear signs that no team should be underestimated, and no team should indulge in complacency.
Having not reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup since 2006, Portugal have a point to prove in Qatar and are coming into the tournament with great firepower.
Despite the absence of Liverpool striker Diogo Jota due to injury, players such as Ronaldo, his old teammate Bruno Fernandez and Manchester City stars Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva are likely to participate in the match today, Thursday.
Ahead of them will be a Ghana team that lacks form but has quality.
Knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations with a humiliating group-stage defeat against Comoros in January, the Black Stars will benefit from the “signings” of striker Inaki Williams and right-back Tariq Lamptey ahead of the tournament.
Williams switched sides from Spain earlier this year and Lamptey from England.
Otto Addo – the only part-time coach in the tournament – also has star midfielder Mohamed Kodos and seasoned full-backs including Thomas Partey and the Ayew brothers, Jordan and Andre.
It remains to be seen if Addo, who mainly serves as a scout for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, can get Ghana to tap.
Also from Group H are Uruguay and South Korea, who will play at the Education City Stadium on Thursday.
Uruguay are the favorites and will benefit from the experience of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez will also feature in attack, while midfielders Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde have been in excellent form of late.
The positive news for South Korea is that superstar Son Heung-min has recovered from a damaged eye socket and is training in a protective face mask this week.
In the other matches that will be held on Thursday, Brazil and Serbia, the two candidates for the tournament, will be the last two teams to compete in their two championships when they meet at Lusail Stadium.
Five-time champions Brazil have arguably the tournament’s best attacking line-up, both in quality and depth.
Neymar Jr – like fellow talismans Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – Looking for his first World Cup title, he will be strongly supported up front alongside Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, Barcelona’s Rafinha and Everton’s Richarlison.
But Serbia, who topped its qualifying group before Portugal, will not be very easy and has a lot of scoring prowess with captain Dusan Tadic, Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic and Fulham player Aleksandar Mitrovic. However, Vlahović and Mitrović struggled with injuries prior to the tournament.
Hoping to reach the World Cup knockout stages for the first time, Serbia will likely have to do battle with Switzerland and Cameroon, who face each other on Thursday, to reach the last 16 – barring any disastrous results for Brazil.
But as this World Cup has proven so far, don’t rule out any possibility.
Switzerland and Cameroon – 5 am ET
Uruguay vs. South Korea – 8 a.m. ET
Portugal vs Ghana – 11am ET
Brazil vs. Serbia – 2 p.m. ET
United States: Fox Sports
United Kingdom: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC