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World Cup 2022: Why to expect Cristiano Ronaldo to score against Ghana

World Cup 2022: Why to expect Cristiano Ronaldo to score against Ghana

Portugal get their World Cup 2022 Group H campaign underway against Ghana at Stadium 974 on Thursday, as A Selecao finally attempt to go all the way on the biggest stage of them all.

A pair of Euro 2016 and 2018-19 UEFA Nations League triumphs are notable achievements on Fernando Santos‘s CV, but his side have largely flattered to deceive at the World Cup in recent memory.

Uruguay – who are also occupants of Group H alongside South Korea – knocked Portugal out of the last-16 stage at the 2018 World Cup, and only once since the turn of the millennium have A Selecao gone further, finishing fourth in 2006.

That is even with the efforts of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been dominating the headlines for all the wrong reasons ahead of the Qatar tournament.

Having ripped into Manchester United during an explosive interview with Piers Morgan and failed to fire domestically during his short stint under Erik ten Hag, Ronaldo has not exactly peaked ahead of the World Cup.

Illness has also bedevilled the 37-year-old – which he has since recovered from – and another weight has been lifted off his shoulders after he mutually agreed to terminate his Man United contract.

Ronaldo could very well have been concerned about his Man United saga having a knock-on effect on Portugal’s World Cup preparations, but a fresh start now awaits the striker, who will be hoping to immediately return to his goalscoring ways at Stadium 974.

Cristiano Ronaldo pictured during Portugal training on November 19, 2022© Reuters

Ronaldo’s recent record at the World Cup certainly hints at a goal involvement for the former Man United, Real Madrid and Juventus man, who has seven World Cup goals to his name from 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Furthermore, all seven of those goals have come in the group stage, with Ronaldo still waiting for his first strike in the knockout rounds, despite playing at four tournaments already.

While such a statistic is reassuring for any potential last-16 opponents of A Selecao’s, Ronaldo’s penchant for goals in the group stages is bad news for Ghana, who succumbed to a winner from the 37-year-old in the 2014 tournament.

Ronaldo may have only scored in one of his four opening World Cup games so far, but that came in his most recent such fixture, bagging a hat-trick against Spain in Portugal’s inaugural 2018 World Cup showdown.

The veteran attacker is never one to shy away from a personal accolade either, and he could break yet another record on Thursday, as he would become the only player to score in five World Cups with a goal here.

Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose all scored in four tournaments but could not make it five, and while Ghana have kept seven clean sheets in their last eight games, a 3-0 loss to Brazil in September shows that they are still vulnerable against the best of the best.

Read more on Portugal vs Ghana

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How Ghana could line up against Portugal
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World Cup 2022: Reasons for Ghana to be confident of beating Portugal

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