Ronaldo back in lineup for Portugal in World Cup qualifying
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo is set to return to Portugal’s lineup for the decisive World Cup qualifier against Switzerland on Tuesday.
Ronaldo did not start in the 2-0 win at Andorra last week because he was not fully fit, but he came off the bench in the second half to score the first goal and help to set up the second by Andre Silva.
The Real Madrid forward practiced on Monday ahead of the showdown against the Swiss at the Stadium of Light.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos made Ronaldo a reserve against Andorra because he didn’t feel the forward was 100 percent fit when he reported to the national team training camp. He said he also didn’t want to risk an injury to the team’s most important player considering the match was played on artificial turf.
Portugal is three points behind Switzerland in Europe Group B and needs a victory to secure first place and the automatic spot for next year’s World Cup in Russia. Both teams have already guaranteed at least a playoff berth.
“We are facing a team which has been impeccable in qualifying so far and we need to try to put an end to that,” Santos said on Monday. “We know that it’s going to be difficult. We need to try to score but we can’t get disorganized.”
Switzerland has won all nine of its qualifiers, including a 2-0 victory against Portugal in the teams’ opener last year in Basel. Portugal has won eight straight since that loss. It has the tiebreaker advantage because of a better goal difference entering the final qualifier.
“We have to keep doing what we have been doing so far,” Portugal defender Pepe said. “We know that Switzerland has a great team, but it will be up to us to do our part and to show how much we want to be in the World Cup.”
Ronaldo has 15 goals in the qualifying campaign, one less than Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored a record-setting 16th on Sunday.
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