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Klose retires from Germany duty | Neuer

Germany news Aug 11, 2014
Read
 Posted by Dermot Corrigan
Jun 26, 2014

Pepe hopes for Portugal 'miracle'

The ESPN FC crew debate which teams will advance out of Group G.

Portugal defender Pepe has said he believes the "miracle" of qualifying for the World Cup round of 16 is possible.

- Portugal vs. Ghana: 50-50 challenge
- Brassell: Portugal cling to slim hopes
- Johnson: World Cup group permutations

The Portuguese are on the brink of elimination after losing their opening Group G game 4-0 to Germany and then needing a last-gasp equaliser to draw 2-2 with the U.S.

Paulo Bento's side need a big win against a Ghana team that also needs victory to have a chance of progressing. If either are to qualify, they require Germany or the U.S. to win in the other final group G fixture.

Speaking at a pre-game news conference in Brasilia, the Real Madrid centre-back said: "I believe in miracles.

"It is possible. We know that it is difficult, but we have to fight for it. That is Portugal's signature -- to fight until the end with the weapons we have. There is hope, and we will try and latch onto that to be able to go through."

Pepe said he had not even thought about the possibility that the U.S. and Germany could play out a mutually beneficial draw in their game -- a result that would end the hopes of both Portugal and Ghana.

"We are all professionals," he added. "We must not go down that road. We must respect the magic of football. That idea did not come into my head."

The 31-year-old is returning to the side after serving a one game suspension following his sending off for headbutting Germany's Thomas Muller during the opening fixture.

He said he believed the relatively light punishment was evidence that he should not have been sent off, adding: "I believe the red card was exaggerated. It was not an assault, which is why FIFA punished it with just one game instead of two or more.

"Of course I was sad, because I left my teammates in a difficult situation. But it was a very rigorous decision."

Bento has selection headaches for the Ghana game, with attackers Helder Postiga and Hugo Almeida, goalkeeper Rui Patricio and left-back Andre Almeida major doubts, while his other left-back Fabio Coentrao has already been ruled out of the tournament.

One player sure to start despite ongoing knee concerns is Cristiano Ronaldo, who told Marca it was "almost impossible" for his team to qualify, but stressed that he had not entirely given up hope.

"All the players have given everything they had," he said. "Now all that is left to do is try for something that seems almost impossible. In football anything can happen and mathematically it is possible, but we know that it is an almost impossible task."

Meanwhile, El Pais has claimed that the 2013 Ballon d'Or winner's recent injury problems are linked to a new personal weights regime that has built up his upper body while putting extra pressure on his knees.

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