Cristiano Ronaldo was reportedly told he could risk a career-ending injury if he tried to play against the United States on a badly hobbled left knee, but the Portuguese star has decided country must come first.
Ronaldo will play against the United States on Sunday in what could be a make or break match for Portugal. After losing the opening match to Germany, the Portugal squad must avoid a loss for a chance to advance out of Group G.
There were questions during the week whether the best player in the world would take the field, but on Saturday Ronaldo’s teammates revealed that he’s ready to go.
“He trains everyday with all of us. So Cristiano is fit to play,” Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles said. “That’s all I can say.”
Ronaldo was seen running through several drills, and the limp that was apparent earlier in the week was now gone. But he still had his left knee taped.
The United States team knows that the game is completely different when Cristiano Ronaldo is on the field.
“He’s strong physically. He’s a fast runner. He’s the best in the world with the ball at his feet,” United States goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “That’s why he’s the best player in the world.
“We’re going to do our best to bottle him up.”
There could be more at stake than just advancing in the 2014 World Cup. A Spanish online newspaper, El Confidencial, reported that Portuguese surgeon Jose Carlos Noronha warned Ronaldo: “Let your knee rest, or your future is in danger.”
But the Real Madrid star is not listening to any medical advice.
“I’m the one that says whether I’m playing or not,” Ronaldo reportedly said.
Even if Cristiano Ronaldo plays against the United States, Portugal is still at a disadvantage. Defender Fabio Coentrao and striker Hugo Almeida are both out with injuries while defender Pepe will be suspended for the match.