Cristiano Ronaldo is set to return to Portugal’s lineup for the decisive World Cup qualifier against Switzerland early tomorrow [Macau time].
Ronaldo did not start in the 2-0 win at Andorra last week because he was not fully fit, but he came off the bench in the second half to score the team’s first goal and help set up the second by Andre Silva.
The Real Madrid forward practiced normally along with the rest of Portugal’s squad on Monday ahead of the showdown against the Swiss at the Stadium of Light.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos kept Ronaldo on the bench against Andorra because he didn’t feel the forward was 100 percent fit when he reported to the national team’s training camp. He said he also didn’t want to risk an injury to the team’s most important player considering the match was played on artificial turf.
Portugal is three points behind Switzerland in Group B and needs a victory to secure first place and the automatic spot for next year’s World Cup in Russia. Both teams have already guaranteed at least a playoff berth.
Switzerland has won all nine of its qualifiers, including a 2-0 victory against Portugal in the teams’ opener last year in Basel. Portugal has won eight straight since that loss. It has the tiebreaker advantage because of a better goal difference entering the final qualifier.
Ronaldo has 15 goals in the European qualification campaign, one less than Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored a record-setting 16th goal on Sunday. AP