Portugal cannot focus on absent Ronaldo - Santos

Portugal boss Fernando Santos is paying little thought to when exactly Cristiano Ronaldo will return to the national team.

Published : Nov 17, 2018 06:33 IST

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos and star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal head coach Fernando Santos and star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos and star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Fernando Santos admits Portugal misses Cristiano Ronaldo but says his focus is solely on the pressing matter of reaching the Nations League Finals.

Juventus star Ronaldo is not expected to feature at international level until March at the earliest, although it appears his self-imposed exile could continue later into 2019.

The European champion, which underwhelmed in a last-16 exit at the World Cup, has performed well in its captain's absence, compiling a four-game unbeaten run.

Either a point away to Italy or home win over Poland would be enough to top Group 3 in Nations League A following recent victories over both opponents.

Portugal's head coach, however, has not forgotten Ronaldo's worth, the in-form attacker having struck eight times in Serie A this season.

"There's no team that could say they don't want to have Cristiano Ronaldo," Santos said.

"He is always important, he's the best player in the world, and that's all, that's enough.

"I hope his huge talent and his title of being the best in the world can be reflected by him winning next Ballon d'Or."

On the prospect of Ronaldo returning in March, Santos added: "We'll see. We're still very far from this.

"We now have to focus on this great match, Italy against Portugal, which hopefully will come with a win for Portugal."

The Azzurri enter the match with renewed confidence following Roberto Mancini's first competitive victory in charge last month, a 1-0 defeat of Poland.

Santos praised his counterpart's work and drew comparisons between their playing styles, rejecting the view that Portugal has favoured a defensive attitude during his tenure. 

"We're not a counter-attacking team, we've never been like this," the former Greece boss said.

"We know how difficult it is [to beat Italy] and we're prepared for it. At this moment, both teams have a similar style of football, so it'll be a great match."

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment