CAMPINAS, Brazil (CBSNewYork/AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo is fully fit to play against the United States in a crucial Group G match at the World Cup, a Portugal teammate said Wednesday.
Ronaldo needed an ice pack for his troublesome left knee during the day’s earlier training session, once again raising concerns about the world player of the year’s fitness.
But backup goalkeeper Beto said the Real Madrid star would be ready for the showdown with the United States on Sunday in the Amazon rain forest capital of Manaus.
“Cristiano is 100 percent fit to play. Every match, if he starts to play, it is because he is fit to play, he’s ready to play,” Beto insisted. “He loves football but his body is the most important thing for him … so if he starts a match he is ready, he is fit, so I don’t think that is a problem.”
Portugal was humiliated in a 4-0 defeat by Germany in their World Cup opener. Ronaldo was doubtful to play before that game, but declared himself fit. He went on to produce a subdued performance.
Ronaldo has been hampered by tendinitis and a muscle injury since before the tournament, creating plenty of speculation about how he would perform in Brazil.
Ronaldo’s doctor has reportedly warned the star that he’s risking a career-threatening injury.
Beto said the 29-year-old Real Madrid forward was “sick of reading things about him that are not true”.
Though his knee had been bandaged in previous training sessions, Ronaldo started without one Wednesday. After some light work with the rest of the first team, followed by some stretching, the world player of the year had the knee ice-packed.
He then waved and distributed some T-shirts to a crowd of some 3,000 before leaving with the rest of the squad.
The rout against Germany means Portugal badly needs a victory over a United States team that made a winning start to the tournament, beating Ghana 2-1.
Beto said Portugal’s players were confident of taking all three points in Manaus.
“The best version of Portugal can beat United States,” he said. “We respect the United States of America. It is a very good team. They grew up the last years and so we got to respect them. But we believe in ourselves.”
The Americans are just as confident. And so are their fans after a 2-1 win in the opener against nemesis Ghana.
“These 23 players, I think we all deserve to be here, really,” U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya said. “We’ve earned that right to play here. All these players have shown throughout training camp in Stanford and all that that they are more than capable of handling different things, and we have size, strength, speed back there as well.”
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