With a few blogs dropping out of The Sun‘s World Cup competition, RoM has been given Korea Republic and Honduras to support. Park is already through to the next round and will face Uruguay, whilst Honduras are currently bottom of their group. If Chile beat Spain then a big win against Switzerland could see them go through…
At RoM, whilst very disappointed to learn that Nani wouldn’t get his chance to shine, we had enough years following Portugal’s results because of Ronaldo to develop a bit of a soft spot for the Portuguese.
James T from Unproffesional Foul had a chat with us before the start of the World Cup about his hopes for Portugal.
Scott the Red: So, Portugal eh? Happy?
James T: No. We thought the team was a potential wreck, and that’s before Nani was ruled out. It’s never about a lack of pure skill with this group, and with Almeida in good form, they have the target man they’ve so often lacked. But even if Ronaldo matures (and scores) and Pepe manages a few good games, it’s just hard to see a clear path past Brazil and Ivory Coast. The latter is obviously the more vulnerable, but a second place finish would only earn the Portuguese a date, we’d assume, with Group H winners Spain.
STR: But surely any team with Cristiano Ronaldo in stands a chance of winning the World Cup?
JT: Don’t be cheeky with us. Surely he’s capable of lifting an already capable side, much like he did for those years at Old Trafford. But when forced to carry the load on his own… well, Ronaldo remains an unknown. Perhaps he’ll “write a new history,” but until then, we think it’s more about his teammates putting Ronaldo in a place to shine, and not the other way around.
STR: There’s no denying his skill, but you’re right, plenty of our lads have said sacrifices were made in the team to help him, and the fact we scored 18 more goals in the league after he left is testament to their shackles being taken off. Nani has definitely been one of the success stories of Ronaldo’s departure. How much of a blow do you think his injury is?
JT: It’s all in the context of a team. It’s obviously a problem when you lose one of your star players. And in this group, being short one Nani could mean coming up one point short of a place in the knockout round. That said, Portugal is deep in the midfield and will have more than capable reinforcement (should they ever settle on a formation.)
STR: The furthest Portugal have ever reached in the World Cup was the semi-finals. Do you think they have improved since then?
JT: Since 1966? I guess. Eusebio pretty much carried that team on his Mozambique-born shoulders. Now the Portuguese, instead of stealing African talent, must settle for Brazil’s cast-offs. As an American, we watch our own guys ship off to Italy and Serbia, then snag what we can from Mexico. So I think they’re doing well. But really, any country that produces Figo and his generation, then follows with Cristiano Ronaldo (a native Madeiran) has to be doing something right.
STR: Well, I was more referring to the semi-finals of the last World Cup when they got knocked out by France, but Eusebio? I say Kiddo. Anyway, you have been drawn in the group of death, alongside the likes of Brazil and Ivory Coast. How many points do you think you’ll get?
JT: We? Oh, right. I think we better go into that third game (vs. Brazil) not needing much. Portugal travelled to Brazil for a friendly late last year I believe and took a memorable shellacking. I think the Ivorians will be tough, and that first fixture will decide the rest for us. Mark it, if Portugal can beat Ivory Coast on June 15th in Port Elizabeth they will go through on either six or seven points. I don’t think a draw does it.
STR: What are your predictions for your game against Brazil?
JT: If Brazil has absolutely anything to play for, I believe she shall have a bite of Portugal’s lunch.
STR: Who do you want to win the World Cup?
JT: We’re a diverse lot over at UF. Two Inglish by my count, a handful of Yanks, and then the animal we keep in the attic, a French-Haitian-American whose foremost concern will be Les Bleus. Speaking strictly for myself, I’m all for the USMNT. On the off chance they don’t win the damn thing, I’ll have my claws in England and Holland.
STR: Well your animal in the attic must be really chuffed with France’s performance! I know it’s been entertaining for everyone else (sorry Paddy). So, who do you think will be the tournament’s best player?
JT: I think everything is shaping up so that Kaka will remind us why Madrid paid all that borrowed money for him.
STR: Well he hasn’t set the tournament alight just yet, but he has had a few assists and will start the next round well rested after that unjust red card. Finally, who do you think will win the World Cup?
STR: Thanks for your time mate. Força Brasil!