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Santos bemused by Nani's exit


Ronaldo: Portugal face strongest group

Ronaldo is suffering with left-leg patellar tendinitis as he works to be available for the Group G opener on June 16.

Cristiano Ronaldo thinks Portugal are competing in the "strongest" group at the World Cup, and should not be considering favourites to win the tournament.

- Curtis: Cristiano Ronaldo injury stirs anxiety
- The Toe Poke: Ronaldo and the witch doctor

The Real Madrid forward will captain Paulo Bento's side in Group G, with tough games against Germany, the U.S. and Ghana awaiting a side that scraped into the competition after a playoff victory against Sweden.

"We are not favourites, indeed, but we will, as always, try to do the best possible," he wrote in his blog on Thursday.

"We know that we have a difficult group stage. In fact, in my opinion, it's the strongest group of the World Cup, but let's take one step at a time.

"We have ambition, but with the awareness that we have to set ourselves some goals, step by step, game by game. Calmly but with confidence.

"We know we have an important match against Germany, the first one in the competition, then against Ghana, and finally against the United States. Our goal is obviously to pass the group stage. Then we'll see."

The 29-year-old set a Champions League record last season by netting 17 goals in a single tournament as Los Blancos won La Decima -- a tenth European Cup triumph -- but Portugal's talisman is suffering from tendinitis in the buildup to the World Cup.

Despite the injury concerns amid a witch doctor's claims that he is responsible for Ronaldo's woes, the player is looking forward to leading his team in "brother country" Brazil, and knows that the eyes of Portugal will be on the national side this summer.

"It's an enormous pride to represent and to captain the Portuguese National Team," he continued. "Pride, satisfaction, pleasure and honor, but also a big responsibility.

"Above all, it's the country that is at stake and we know that an entire nation -- composed of 10 million Portuguese plus the ones living abroad -- not only has their eyes set on us but also thrills with our successes and cries with the less good moments.

"We left for the World Cup in Brazil with hope, but also making sure that we keep our feet firmly on the ground. Competing in the World Cup in a brother country like Brazil is also appealing.

"Portugal and Brazil have historical connections, both countries speak the same language, so I think it will be a fantastic experience and I believe that the Brazilians will also support us."


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