Portugal’s first match gave the U.S. plenty to be hopeful about. Pepe was sent off before halftime after headbutting Thomas Müller and Müller went on to score a hat-trick for a 4-0 Germany win. But one of the most encouraging signs for the USMNT was just how out of sorts star player Cristiano Ronaldo looked.
Ronaldo, the World Player of the Year, scored 31 goals in 31 La Liga games for Real Madrid last season. However, during the final weeks of the season, he was hampered by a knee injury, one he carried with him to Brazil. The injury left the player struggling and ineffective against a rampant Germany side.
There’s been plenty of news swirling about regarding the superstar’s condition, with Portugal even having to deny reports that Ronaldo’s doctor advised him to drop out of the World Cup. But although the team has yet to release anything official on Ronaldo’s status for Sunday’s match, they are still hopeful that he will start.
Teammate Miguel Veloso sounds optimistic, saying, “I’m not a doctor but, from what I see, Ronaldo is fine. He is training, he is jumping and he is shooting. There is not much else to say.”
Jürgen Klinsmann remains wary of Ronaldo’s threat. The USMNT coach said, “Now [Portugal] are going to come into Manaus pretty angry and I don’t know how Ronaldo is going to perform when he is angry. We need to show Portugal how good we are.”
It sounds as though Klinsmann is preparing his side to face a fully-fit Ronaldo, meaning that the U.S. is unlikely to show signs of complacency. That’s good news for fans of the USMNT, as with a win on Sunday, they’ll almost certainly be through to the knockout stages – either a win or draw for Germany against Ghana on Saturday will assure that status.