Portugal and Cristiano don't want scares against Iñaki Williams' Ghana
The Portuguese arrive with great individualities and Ronaldo's scoring hierarchy to convince in a 'trap' debut against the African fortress
MADRID, 23 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) -
The Portuguese team kicks off its participation in the World Cup in Qatar this Thursday (5:00 p.m.) with a duel against Ghana in Group H, a match in which the Portuguese arrive as favorites by squad and the scoring hierarchy of its star Cristiano Ronaldo, starring for his convulsive situation with Manchester United, and in which they will face off against a strong Ghanaian team, with the 'lion' Iñaki Williams in their ranks.
The Portuguese 'crack', protagonist in recent days for being a new free player after breaking ties with United and ending badly with the English, is once again the leader of a very complete group with many variations. Cristiano Ronaldo will experience his fifth World Cup in Qatar -like Messi, Maradona, Matthaus and Márquez, among others-, with the aim of guiding a consolidated group whose ceiling is third place in 1966, his debut in this type of tournament, with the star Eusebius.
One of the best generations of Portuguese football that already touched glory with the 2016 Euro Cup, but that still does not impress in a World Cup, with the eighth as usual in recent editions. And it is that he has not managed to advance from this first crossing since 200, when he reached the quarterfinals, precisely in the debut of Cristiano Ronaldo -captain and top scorer (117) of Portugal- in this tournament.
In Qatar, the Portuguese will have to be alert in their first game, since they have not won any of their last three World Cup debuts, with two draws and one loss. To do this, he will rely on his height and defensive experience with the incombustible Pepe and Ruben Dias, and the fast and technical Cancelo and Mendes on the lanes. Talent is already emerging in a midfield in which William Carvalho and Rúben Neves from Betis will support a team that will depend on the flashes of Bruno Fernandes.
In attack, Fernando Santos, who is facing his fourth major tournament on the Portuguese bench (two Euro Cups and two World Cups), must choose whether to give Joao Félix a chance in the 'eleven' far from his best version. Cristiano is fixed, with Bernardo Silva on the right in his hinge condition. Thus, the 'rossonero' Rafael Leao, who loses his goals -he already has 7 goals in 2022-2023, compared to the 14 he scored last year-, aims to start.
Behind Serbia in their qualifying group, the Portuguese and their versatile squad did not avoid the classic suffering of having to play the European 'Playoffs' with two qualifiers against Turkey (3-1) and North Macedonia (2-0). She should not suffer mistakes that harmed her in the qualifying round, framed in a group with, in addition to Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.
In front will be a Ghana that faces its fourth participation in a World Cup in Qatar, after missing Russia 2018. It got its ticket for the tournament beating Nigeria in the African final phase, after making a good draw at home and equalizing ( 1-1) as a visitor. Its competitiveness is backed by its four Africa Cups (1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982) and an improvement in the technical level of the squad with the weight of soccer players competing in Europe.
The most prominent, the Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey, the Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey managing the engine room and, above all, the Athletic striker Iñaki Williams, who has already accumulated three games with the 'Blackstars'. Nor should we forget the brothers André (Al-Saad) and Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace), sons of the legendary Abédi Pelé, three times African Ballon d'Or and European champion with Olympique de Marseille.
This call-up hardened in the 'Old Continent' aims to make up for technical deficiencies and defensive weakness, betting on speed and physical strength as great assets. The coach Otto Addo will have to put together a competitive team that can equal the 2010 quarterfinals, their best World Cup result, when they lost to Uruguay after extra time.
PORTUGAL: Diogo Costa; Cancelo, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Nuno Mendes; William Carvalho, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes; Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Rafael Leao.
GHANA: Wollacott; Odoi, Amartey, Djiku, Mensah; Thomas Partey, Idris Bada, Kudus, Ayew; Iñaki Williams and Felix Afena-Gyan.
--REFEREE: Ismail Elfath (MAR).
--ESTADIO: Stadium 974.
--TIME: 5:00 p.m./La1, World Goal and Movistar.