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Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes says it was a ‘dream’ to play with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United but ‘nothing lasts forever’.
Ronaldo’s contract with United was terminated by mutual consent.
Portugal begin their World Cup season against Ghana on Thursday and Fernandes says the players weren’t distracted by Ronaldo’s situation.
“We have not discussed the subject – we are all focused on the national team and the World Cup,” said Fernandes.
Ronaldo’s departure from United follows a controversial interview in which the 37-year-old criticized the club and said he had “no respect” for manager Erik ten Hag.
Fernandes added: “You know how important it is for Cristiano and all of us to play for Portugal. It’s every player’s dream. Our focus is 100% on the national team and we all know what we have to do .”
“I don’t feel unwell. It was a privilege to play with Cristiano and a dream at the club. Cristiano has always been an inspiration for me, it was a dream to play with him at Man Utd but we know it. ” nothing is forever.
“It was good while it lasted but we have to respect his decision whether we agree or not.
“We know that decisions might be difficult to make, but these must be for the best of our families.”
Fernandes’ comments were echoed by Portugal boss Fernando Santos, who said: “It [Ronaldo leaving Man Utd] is something that has not even been discussed. No comment on this in our time together. The conversation never took place.
“The players have time to themselves to do what they want, but they know they have to focus to try and win this competition.
“You’ve seen what happened in the first couple of games with big upsets. The legacy is us, that’s crucial.”
“That’s not our problem”
Ghana finished bottom of their group at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year but qualified for the World Cup after beating rivals Nigeria in qualifiers.
Coach Otto Addo says his side’s opponents will not be affected by Ronaldo’s situation as “everyone wants to win”.
“I don’t care, it’s not our problem and I don’t think it’s a big problem,” Addo said.
“Everyone wants to win and we’re at World Cup level. I don’t think anyone can mind.”
Ghana captain Andre Ayew also admitted Portugal would be favorites for the opening Group H game.
“As my boss said, it’s not really our problem what happens in the Portuguese team, they are great professionals, they play for top teams, they will be ready for the World Cup,” said Ayew.
“Portugal are the favorites on paper, we have to show on the pitch that what’s going to happen on the pitch isn’t what’s on paper.”
Struggling with illness, Ronaldo missed Portugal’s last warm-up game against Nigeria but is expected to be available against Ghana.
Ghana rested some of their more experienced players in their recent warm-up win against Switzerland but are likely to welcome back players like Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey.
World No. 61 Ghana are the lowest ranked team in the tournament and this is a difficult game for them to start with.
Portugal have some world-class players in their squad but I’m not sure how it will match up with Cristiano Ronaldo who was in terrible form for Manchester United and threw his toys out of the pram. He seems to blame everyone else rather than himself.
At 37, Ronaldo is not the player he once was, but he will be keen to perform well at this World Cup after the events of the last few months.
He loves to be the center of attention but now he needs to let his football do the talking, which he hasn’t done this season.
Chris Sutton’s predictions for the opening round of World Cup matches
- The only previous meeting between Portugal and Ghana came in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup. Portugal won 2-1 with a winning goal from Cristiano Ronaldo
- Portugal are without a win in their last three opening games at the World Cup. (D2 L1)
- Should he play, Ghana captain Andre Ayew would have appeared in more World Cup games (8) in competition than any current player for African nations (currently 7).
- Ghana will be at a World Cup for the fourth time. They have failed to make it past the group stage only once so far – in their last appearance in 2014