Madrid: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t count his side among the favourites to win the World Cup, and he likes it that way.
Ronaldo says he prefers the role of underdog a day before Friday’s draw to determine the groups for the tournament.
“We know we are not favourites and that is good for us, we will have the advantage of surprise. I hope we get in a good group and then we’ll see,” the Real Madrid star told a Spanish daily.
Ronaldo believes hosts Brazil, defending champions Spain and three-time winners Germany are the favourites to win the title. However, having been eliminated by Spain in each of the last two major tournaments, he is keen to avoid some of his club teammates along with Brazil and Germany in the early stages.
“The candidates to win the World Cup are Brazil, Spain and Germany. Ideally it is not a good moment to be drawn with them, but we are not thinking about that just now,” he said.
“We will see what the draw presents us with. We are confident, in good shape and we have achieved our objective of getting to Brazil. Hopefully we will not be drawn with any of these really strong teams from the start.”
While Ronaldo picks Brazil as one of his favourites, Carlos Alberto Torres fears the current crop are worse than previous World Cup failures and the soccer-mad nation is overcooking expectations.
“You have to keep your feet on the ground, you can’t say six or seven months before the World Cup that we are champions, I don’t think that is the right approach,” the captain of the victorious 1970 side said.
“We’ve had national teams better than the current one and we didn’t win the World Cup. We have the support and we are at home but that doesn’t mean we will win.”
Meanwhile, Fifa announced a 37 per cent increase in the prize money for the World Cup finals from $420 million in 2010 to $576 million at next year’s tournament in Brazil.
The winners will pocket $35 million compared to $30 million four years ago, with the runners-up taking home $25 million.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter also said the Itaquera Arena in Sao Paulo that will host the opening match of the 2014 World Cup will not be ready until April 14 or 15, less than two months before the tournament kicks off.
The announcement came a day after the Brazilian government said the stadium would be ready in February.