Next Thursday (14th November) the return game takes place at the Algarve Stadium, Faro and victory for Portugal would mean that if Serbia fails to beat group leaders Ukraine on the following Sunday then Portugal would be virtually certain of qualifying for next year‘s finals.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to add to his impressive haul, he has the most international goals among currently active players, having scored 95 goals in 162 appearances since his debut on 20 August 2003. He is fast approaching the only player above him in the rankings, Ali Daei (Iran) who scored 109 goals for his country between 1993 and 2006.
A sad omission from next week’s squad will be midfielder André Gomes who was stretchered off with a serious injury during the latter stages of Everton’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday.
Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo recently gave an extended interview to magazine France Football. 34 year-old Ronaldo spoke largely about his continued drive to perform after fifteen years at the highest level. “First of all, you must have talent. Without this it will not be possible to do much. After that, talent without work is useless. Nothing falls from the sky. I would never have gotten where I did without my work ethic. We all get old. You may be healthy for a long time, but the body naturally declines; we can do nothing about it. They say I have the body of an athlete, but it's not just the physique or the training. There is the lifestyle, the nutrition, the sleep, the choice of exercises I do. About 70 percent of my life is dedicated to football."
"After a recent game against Lokomotiv Moscow I went to dinner with friends, got home at 4.00 am and soaked myself in ice water before going to bed. I woke up at 10.00am prepared breakfast and an hour later went to work at the gym. If you don't have this discipline every day, you cannot stay on top for so long. Today I want to learn more than ever, I want to be more educated, I want to educate, I want to read a lot, books on medicine, yoga. I see many documentaries about the masters of this discipline and those who teach meditation. I practice for 15 or 20 minutes and it really works. We must try everything, because everywhere there are problems, everyone suffers from stress. If we can get rid of it, it's fantastic!”
On his legacy he said, “If it was up to me, I would play only the important games. The national team and the Champions League. These are the games that most motivate me, those that have something at stake, a difficult environment with pressure. But you must be professional and fit every day to honour your family and the club you represent and pays you. You have to do your best every day. It's always nice when people talk about you in a complimentary way. When it's over, by the end of my career, it won't matter to me anymore, because I will disconnect from everything. It's been 15 years since I started all these sacrifices. I appreciate what I did, but I will enjoy myself even more: being with my friends, with my family, watching my children grow up. Recount my life experience. But not now. I think I can still give a lot.”
The opportunity to see the maestro in action next Thursday should not be missed with tickets priced at only 12.50 euros and 15 euros. Visit the Portuguese Football Federation website where tickets can be booked and paid for online: www.bilheteira.fpf.pt