Monday 16 April 2018, 05:22

Santos: Portugal aren’t among the five favourites

  • ​Fernando Santos names his five favourites to win Russia 2018

  • He admits Cristiano Ronaldo is central to his tactics

  • Does he feel Portugal are a one-man team?

Fernando Santos has revealed who he believes are the five favourites to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – and his Portugal side, despite being the reigning European champions and boasting The Best FIFA Men’s Player holder Cristiano Ronaldo, are not among them.

“For me, the favourites are Brazil, Germany, Spain, Argentina and France,” the 63-year-old told Blog Ora Bolas. “I say this due to the enormous strength in depth they have and the extraordinary quality of their teams, in addition to their experience on the big stages and success.

“We know that we’re not the favourites and we accept the favouritism of the other teams, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have ambition and the clear goal of going into each match to win.

“We are a very strong group, cohesive. We are humble, but we know we have quality. We don’t have the intention of thinking we’re better than everyone else, but we believe greatly in our quality and know we’ll be difficult to beat.”

Ronaldo +10? Portugal face Spain, Morocco and Iran in Group B. And while Santos stressed he will need 11 players to escape into the knockout phase, he didn’t deny that Ronaldo would be central to his tactics.

“Cristiano is fundamental in whichever team he’s in,” said the man who guided Greece into the Round of 16 at Brazil 2014. “That was said at Manchester United and it’s said at Real Madrid – and they’re two of the best teams in the world.

“Obviously the best player in the world is an absolutely fundamental element in any team strategy, but everyone knows that to win we have to have a team and play as a team. He has demonstrated this commitment, this spirit of sacrifice and dedication, and his team-mates feel even more motivated by his example.”

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