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‘Brazil will also root for us’

Miami: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo is banking on Brazilian support for his country at the World Cup, where he says they are in the toughest of the eight groups.

“To compete in the World Cup in a brother country like Brazil is appealing,” the World Player of the Year wrote in a blog.

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

The Real Madrid forward has been suffering from tendinosis as well as a thigh problem and Portugal badly need him fit for their key opening game against Germany in Salvador on June 16.

The other group opponents are Ghana and the United States.

“In my opinion, we have the strongest group of the World Cup, but we should take it one step at a time,” Ronaldo said.

“Our goal is obviously to pass the group stage and then we’ll see. We left for Brazil with hope, but we will also make sure our feet stay firmly on the ground.”

After winning the Champions League final with Real last month, Ronaldo is desperate to secure a first major trophy for his country, who unexpectedly lost the 2004 European Championship final in Lisbon to Greece.

“It is with enormous pride that I represent and captain the Portuguese national team,” he added.

“It fills me with pride, satisfaction, pleasure and honour, but it is also a big responsibility.

“It is the country which is at stake and we understand an entire nation - composed of ten million Portuguese and those living abroad - have their eyes fixed on us. I confess there are feelings which don't change much as the years roll. I continue to shiver, as soon as I hear the Portuguese anthem.”

Meanwhile, coach Paulo Bento gave no clues as to when Ronaldo would be fully fit. “I don’t know when we will be able to use him. That’s what I said last Friday. When there is something different to what I said before, we will say so,” Bento told reporters. (Reuters)