'Cristiano Ronaldo can inspire Portugal to World Cup glory', says Bernardo Silva

Ronaldo has only scored three goals in 13 World Cup appearances.
Updated 06 June 2018
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'Cristiano Ronaldo can inspire Portugal to World Cup glory', says Bernardo Silva

  • A lot of hope and expectation has been placed on the shoulders of Ronaldo ahead of the World Cup.
  • Portugal head into the tournament as European Champions following their memorable victory two years' ago.

It is often argued one man cannot win a World Cup on his own, no matter how exceptional.
While Pele and Diego Maradona were notably inspirational in memorable past Brazil and Argentina triumphs, the current crop of footballing greats have struggled to match them despite their club heroics.
Four years ago, Lionel Messi was left heartbroken as Argentina lost a tense final to Germany — the closest he has come to winning the game’s biggest prize.
As for Cristiano Ronaldo, a 
fourth-place finish in 2006 is the best he has managed with Portugal, while the team suffered a disastrous first-round exit in 2014.
Yet with a fifth Champions League success following a fifth Ballon d’Or title, the Real Madrid frontman will now be aiming to rule the world.
Teammate Bernardo Silva believes Ronaldo’s desire shows no sign of diminishing aged 33, and that he will be Portugal’s talisman in Russia this month — just as he was when leading his country to their first major tournament success at Euro 2016.
“If he’s good in form and fit, everything is possible for us,” the Manchester City midfielder told Arab News.
“We need him, he’s our main player, no one can question that.
“So if Cristiano is at his best we can do something special at the World Cup, for sure. He’s our captain, he pushes us and everyone knows he’s such an important player and we trust in him to be as well as he can be to help us.
“You can always see this ambition and desire in him. He has won five Ballon d’Ors, now going for the sixth, he’s won five Champions Leagues and has won the European Championship.
“But he is now thinking about winning the World Cup even though he knows how complicated it is. So his ambition, the way he thinks, the way he performs, is a lesson that all of us can share and learn from a special player.”
Ronaldo famously urged Portugal on to victory from the sidelines in the Euro 2016 final against France after being forced out early with a knee injury.
A thigh injury on the eve of that tournament saw Bernardo miss the chance to share in that glory.
“I was injured, but so happy for my teammates,” he added.
“I did all the qualification and felt I was part of the team and what they achieved.
“But I was a little bit sad at the same time not to play in the finals, being such an important competition and not being able to help my team win the first big international trophy for our country.
“But now I want to do something in this World Cup. This is my first important competition for my country, I feel fit and in good form and have the confidence to help my country do something special.”
Bernardo will go into the World Cup on a high after helping Manchester City win the Premier League and League Cup following a £43 million ($57 million) arrival from Monaco last summer. While he was generally used in rotation, the 23-year-old still made an impact with nine goals as Pep Guardiola’s outfit smashed Premier League records.
“To win such an important league the way we did it, it gives me a lot of confidence for the World Cup,” said Bernardo, whose Portugal side will face Spain, Iran and Morocco in Group B.
“Pep always wants the best for us at City, always wants us to work hard and to have this ambition to win 
everything, to win all the games.
“It feels great to win the title with City, but I hope for more. The World Cup is probably the most special competition in football, you can only play it once every four years and not everyone gets the chance.
“To be honest I don’t know Iran very well, but Morocco, I played in France with Monaco and some of their team played in the league so I know them. It will be a very tough game.
“We played a friendly with Saudi Arabia and it’s always complicated to play against these types of teams, very physical, and we will try to do our best and get through.
“Spain? Everyone knows how good they are and how difficult it will be.
“Everyone wants to win the World Cup and we believe we can, even though we have to admit we are not the favorites. For me, Brazil, France, Germany and Spain are the favorites. Even though it’s not easy we will try to do it.”


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

Updated 18 April 2019
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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

  • Medvedev eliminates 6th seed Tsitsipas in three sets

MONTE CARLO: Top seed Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in dominating wins to power into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.

Djokovic extended his winning streak against US players with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Taylor Fritz.

The two-time tournament champion has now won nine in a row over Americans since losing at Wimbledon in 2016 to Sam Querrey.

“It was very challenging to play in these (windy) conditions,” Djokovic said. “Taylor just flattens the ball.

“We had five, six close games in the first set, I just managed to break his resistance midway through.

“After that, things went on my side and I felt more comfortable.

“This was one of these days where you just have to hang in there and try to put an extra ball back in the court — that was enough.”

Nadal repeated last year’s semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov, beating the Bulgarian for the 12th time, 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m very, very happy, this is an important victory for me,” the second seed said after winning his 23rd consecutive set at the tournament.

“Grigor is a super talent and is very dangerous. It was a positive match for me.

“I had a good day, I can be happy with what I did on court.

“When you don’t play on clay for almost a year, every win is important for the confidence, especially as I’m coming back from injury.”

Spain’s 17-time Grand Slam champion started his clay season this week after missing a month with another knee problem and has title-holder points to defend here plus Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros.

The king of clay is bidding for a 12th trophy in the principality. His record at the event is a staggering 70-4.

Nadal spent almost an hour in securing the first set but picked up the pace in the second as he ran out the winner.

He next faces Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

World No. 1 Djokovic will be playing his ninth quarterfinal here from 13 appearances at his home event.

Djokovic turned in a steady performance with a dozen winners and unforced errors, while his opponent committed nearly 30 unforced errors in 68 minutes.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 as Daniil Medvedev continued his run of form.

The Russian will next line up against Djokovic after losing to him in January in the Australian Open fourth round.

Tsitsipas was caught on the back foot facing three match points as he trailed 0-40 on his serve late in the second set. After saving the first two, the Greek botched the third to seal his exit after an hour and three-quarters.

Medvedev increased his leading total of ATP season match wins to 20 as a result after he beat Tsitsipas for the fourth time in as many attempts.

“This was a great achievement for me,” Medvedev said. “Everything was perfect today.

“Some wind came up in the second set and I could not get used to it. But in the third, I just worked to put every ball in the court.

“I was pleased to fight back after going a break down in the third set.”

The player who stands a career-high 14th credits his rising form to a renewed dedication to the sport.

“I’ve been working hard for the past 18 months —  since before the start of 2018. I’ve dedicated my life to tennis, which I did not do before,” Medvedev said.

“I had my best season last year — hopefully this year will be better.”

The Russian reached his first quarterfinal at the Masters 1000 level after winning his second match against a Top 10 opponent.

Tsitsipas, runner-up last season to Nadal in Toronto, suffered his eighth defeat of the season against 18 wins and will try and lift his game next week on the clay of Barcelona. 

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-2, 7-5.