Ronaldo and Fernandes's huge World Cup battle
Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes have both posted strong statements on social media, ahead of a monumental week of international football for Portugal.
The pair have been selected in their country's squad prior to the upcoming World Cup qualifying play-off against Turkey on Thursday (19:45 GMT).
It's a huge fixture for the Selecao, who could only finish second in their qualification group following a dramatic last-day defeat to Serbia in Lisbon.
It means Ronaldo, Fernandes and co will have to bypass Turkey – and then the winners of Italy's tie with North Macedonia – if they are to make it to Qatar later this year.
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But both United stars are in determined and optimistic mood ahead of this week's game in Porto.
Via his Instagram account, Ronaldo wrote:
“Total focus on World Cup 2022. Proud as always to represent Portugal. We know the road won't be easy, we have the utmost respect for the opponents we will face and who share the same goals as us. But, together, we will fight to put Portugal in our rightful place. Let's do this!”
Ronaldo is hoping to become just the fourth player in history to compete at five different World Cups, having made his bow at the FIFA tournament in Germany back in 2006.
Meanwhile, Fernandes is aiming for his second tilt at international football's biggest competition, after featuring in the last edition of the tournament in 2018.
On his own Instagram page, Fernandes said:
“On the way back home. Now more than ever, we all need to be united. We'll do everything to get to the World Cup. Let's go!!”
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Portugal have it all to do, however, due to a raft of suspensions and absences.
Joao Cancelo (Manchester City) and Renato Sanches (Lille) are suspended, while Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Ruben Neves (Wolves) and Nelson Semedo (Wolves) are injured.
And there was further bad news when it was confirmed that stalwart centre-back Pepe will miss the game against Turkey due to a positive Covid-19 test.
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And even if Portugal negotiate the Turks, there's a final to come – most likely to be against current European champions Italy.
Thankfully, Selecao manager Fernando Santos can call upon the leading goalscorer in the history of the men's game, in Ronaldo, and one of European football's leading creative forces, in Fernandes.
We wish both players – along with Reds full-back Diogo Dalot – the best of luck in Thursday's match.