CAMPINAS, Brazil (CBSNewYork/AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo again wore a brace on his troublesome left knee Friday as his Portugal team held its final World Cup training session before departing for a crucial game against the United States.
The reigning world player of the year took part in some light workouts with the first team, followed by stretching. He was smiling and appeared at ease at practice at the team base in Campinas, near Sao Paulo, as he took part in a playful game of keep away from teammates. The team was set to leave later in the day for Manaus for its matchup with the U.S. on Sunday.
Portugal was humiliated in a 4-0 defeat by Germany in their opener. Another loss and the fourth-ranked team in the world could be eliminated.
The U.S. will play without Jozy Altidore after the star striker injured his left hamstring in the opening round win over Ghana.
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 was doubtful to play before the Germany game, but declared himself fit. He went on to produce a subdued performance, only adding to the usual drama and scrutiny surrounding him.
Team officials dismissed reports suggesting that Ronaldo could be risking his health by playing, saying they were tired of having to deny every rumor about a player many consider to be the world’s best. They noted, however, that he often plays with a brace and said he’s healthy and would play against the U.S.
Ronaldo has been one of the best players in the world for about a decade, and last year he even passed Lionel Messi by ending the Argentina forward’s streak of winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
He has also excelled on the world stage, helping Portugal reach the 2004 European Championship final and the 2006 World Cup semifinals. The team also advanced out of the group stage at both Euro 2008 and the last World Cup, and then reached the semifinals at Euro 2012.
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