Seeking to divert attention away from the never-ending Cristiano Ronaldo saga, Portugal begins another quest for international stardom against Ghana in the World Cup 2022 Group H opener at Doha’s Stadium 974 today.
The headlines both inside and outside of Portugal in recent days have been dominated by one man, as Manchester United veteran, Ronaldo, who pulled no punches in a scathing attack on the club during an interview with Piers Morgan..
Despite its status as an iconic footballing nation, Portugal has only ever progressed to the semifinals of the World Cup on two occasions in 1966 and 2006, and has failed to go beyond the last 16 in four of the last five tournaments.
Following a brief absence from the World Cup in 2018, Ghana is now back where it belong and already dreaming of sweet revenge in Group H, with Uruguayan villain, Luis Suarez lying in wait 12 years after channelling his inner goalkeeper to prevent the Black Stars from reaching the semifinals.
However, that disappointing exit came in their most recent appearance in 2014 – bowing out without a win to their name – and the Black Stars also failed to prevail in any of their three Africa Cup of Nations matches earlier this year before Otto Addo took the reins. Portugal and Ghana are not total strangers to one another at this level of football, as Ronaldo secured a 2-1 win for A Selecao versus the Black Stars at the 2014 World Cup, and a similar contribution here would aid his efforts to make headlines for the right reasons again.
Bernardo Silva and Ronaldo can be expected to feature in the first XI with no real questions, leaving the likes of Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Otavio and Andre Silva to battle for the final spot in the attack, and the AC Milan starlet’s prowess on the left-hand side should work in his favour.
Similarly, Ghana boss Addo should also have all of his players available for the opening day, and the Black Stars boss also has the best kind of selection queries to contend with after resting some big names in last week’s win over Switzerland.