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Portugal have all the attributes to win the World Cup this year and then there’s the Cristiano Ronaldo factor

Remember when everyone wrote off Portugal before Euro 2016? Do so at your peril this summer

All the excitement is almost too much.

The Panini World Cup sticker album was released yesterday and that means we are exactly 83 days until the first ball is kicked in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

The only downside is it’s going to be Russia v Saudi Arabia.


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Samuel Eto’o taking a selfie with a fan

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Samuel Eto’o taking a selfie with a fan

But fear not, the following day we are treated to one of the tastiest clashes of the group stage containing a side with a real chance of winning the tournament.

Yes it’s Portugal v Spain and as good as the Spaniards are, we’re talking about their Iberian rivals Portugal.

Coming off the back of their first ever victory in an international tournament at Euro 2016 the Portuguese have got everything it takes to walk away winners in Russia.

It’s not ALL about you Cristiano

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It’s not ALL about you Cristiano

But they are nothing without Cristiano Ronaldo, aren’t they?

We’re going in pretty big from the beginning here so strap in.

Trust us, there will be plenty on Ronaldo’s influence to come but it’s important to remember Portugal are more than just CR7.

Portugal’s captain had to go off during the final against the home side France at the Euros and his side were without him for over 95 minutes with the game going into extra time.


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Are they tears Ronny?

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Are they tears Ronny?

But they are resilient if nothing else. 

With Ronaldo moving into a player-manager role on the sidelines, Portugal contained the fancied France team and nicked in it thanks to an Eder goal in the 109th minute.

There is talent across the rest of the squad and the most important thing? They know how to play tournament football.

Is there no end to this man’s skills?

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Is there no end to this man’s skills?

Nobody fancied Portugal before the Euros and they didn’t impress throughout the tournament.

They finished third in a group containing Hungary, Iceland and Austria with three draw and progressed as one of the best losers.

An extra-time winner got them through against everyone’s second favourite team Croatia before they overcame Poland on penalties.

Portugal’s most convincing performance came in a 2-0 win over high-flying Wales before we were back to the defensive but opportunistic final win over France.

No frills and no spills – like I said, tournament football at it’s best.

Portugal’s most unlikely Euro hero

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Portugal’s most unlikely Euro hero

Then of course, there’s the Ronaldo factor.

After a sluggish start to the season there were whispers that Ronaldo was finished.

Until mid-January Ronaldo had scored just four league goals and people were wondering if he would ever rediscover his form.

But he continued to provide the goods for the national side and since Real’s 7-1 crushing of Deportivo on January 21 Ronny has been on fire.

Is he levitating?

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Is he levitating?

Team mates have reported third degree burns he’s been so hot.

Becoming highest scorer in all competitions in Europe’s top five leagues in 2018, Ronaldo has scored 21 goals in 11 games.

If he can carry this form into the World Cup there could be no stopping Portugal.

The Portuguese have adapted to Ronaldo’s late-career position to make sure everything is geared towards serving him and when you have one of the best goalscorers in the history of the game, why not?

Hes way too good for the Championship

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Hes way too good for the Championship

Let’s not forget what could be one of the most remarkable stories of the whole tournament is with Portugal.

Championship side Wolves could supply a potential World Cup winner in the shape of 21-year-old Ruben Neves.

The youngster, signed from from Porto for a league record, has been a revelation in England’s second division and his creativity in midfield is exactly what Portugal were missing at the Euros.

Other unlikely stars include former West Ham centre back Jose Fonte who left for China’s riches after finding life at the London stadium unbearable and West Ham’s new signing Joao Mario.

Remember when one fan turned up to the airport to meet Fonte in China?

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Remember when one fan turned up to the airport to meet Fonte in China?

If Portugal do go all the way I can tell you now it won’t be pretty, but the combination of tournament nous, hard as nails defenders, Ronaldo’s blistering goalscoring ability and a wee bit of luck could be a lethal concoction.

Remember this article when Ronaldo coaches Portugal to beat Germany in the final come July.


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