Portugal picks Ronaldo; Real Madrid must pray for CR7

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Coach Fernando Santos has named skipper Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portuguese squad ahead of the March 2017 international break.

The Selecao will face Hungary on Saturday, March 25 at the Estádio da Luz, in a Group B qualifier for the 2018 World Cup. It is somewhat a rematch of the memorable 2016 Euro encounter that ended 3-3 for both countries.

Three days later, the European champions will host Sweden in a friendly game in Ronaldo’s hometown, Funchal. See the full list of the players called-up for the upcoming matches below:

Full squad 

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício, Anthony Lopes, Marafona

Defenders: Bruno Alves, Cédric Soares, Eliseu, Nélson Semedo, João Cancelo, José Fonte, Luís Neto, Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro

Midfielders: André Gomes, Danilo Pereira, João Mário, João Moutinho, Pizzi, Renato Sanches, William Carvalho

Forwards: André Silva, Bernardo Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo, Éder, Gelson Martins, Ricardo Quaresma

[Source: Portuguese national team’s website]

Despite portraying a sign and image of patriotism, Real Madrid will be particularly weary about their star man leaving for the national team’s camp. In all fairness, the break has come at a really crucial point for the Bernabeu club full of objectives.

Benzema scores against Bilbao
Real Madrid are on course to completing the double by winning the domestic league and Champions League.

The month of April is a make or break period for Zidane’s men in terms of their title aspirations. As scheduled, Los Merengues will face Atletico Madrid in La Liga, Bayern Munich (2x) in the Champions League quarterfinals, as well as play El Clasico in a span of 14 days. It, therefore, rather understandably raises a cause for concern for the league leaders.

To be concise, any injury to their all-time goalscorer (we surely hope not) and other key members, for that matter, will be quite catastrophic to their campaign. As a result, it will be wise for Portugal coach Fernando Santos to ease Ronaldo into this month’s international games rather than starting him outright.

Or perhaps, he could opt to influence the game from the sidelines like he did during the UEFA Euro final, last year. That, Madridistas will genuinely appreciate. Wink.

But if Ronaldo indeed plays, he must surely be cautious so not to pick up any unwanted knock. While Portugal are on course to qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it would be ridiculous for Real Madrid to lose their talisman and bottle the club’s title chances in April. Pray for Ronaldo to dodge the FIFA virus.

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Emmanuel is a very vibrant writer from Ghana. Young but not small. Humble but full of hunger to learn and confidence to achieve greater heights in the world of online journalism. Emmanuel is passionate about the Beautiful Game with special love for English giants Manchester United and their former number 7 icon, Cristiano Ronaldo. In his leisure time, he loves writing and reading practically anything; old notes, e-books, articles... you name it! The Accra native and devoted Christian also loves drawing, swimming, watching and playing football both on the field and via FIFA video games. At times, Emmanuel loves to find himself alone at the beach and in nature.

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