Cristiano Ronaldo is “100 per cent” fit and ready for Portugal’s opening World Cup match against the powerful Germans, William Carvalho said yesterday. The Real Madrid star had ice applied to his troublesome left knee after training on Thursday, sparking fears over his fitness ahead of Monday’s Group G opener, but Carvalho said: “I think he’s now 100 per cent fit.” Portugal captain Ronaldo featured in a 5-1 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland this week. He had missed the previous two warm-up games because of thigh and knee injuries.
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Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari yesterday gave the players who started in the 3-1 win against Croatia a rest from outdoor training at the Selecao’s base in Teresopolis. The squad returned from Sao Paulo, where Brazil beat the Croats in their Group A opener, on Thursday evening, and only the goalkeepers and substitutes appeared on the training ground at Granja Comary. They took part in a game of beach foot-volleyball in front of a small band of supporters.
Bayern Munich hit back at claims made by France’s World Cup doctor that Franck Ribery’s fear of injections had forced him to pull out of the tournament. French team medical chief Franck Le Gall had said Thursday that Ribery, who plays for the German champions and withdrew from the World Cup because of a back injury, could have still made the trip to Brazil. But Bayern doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt “rejected categorically” the allegations in a statement. Bayern also rejected Le Gall’s claim that Ribery was afraid of injections. “The mere fact Ribery returned to Munich after pulling out of the France squad to seek treatment without cortisone and without painkillers further highlights this fact.”
Manchester United’s teenage star Adnan Januzaj has given Belgium coach Marc Wilmots a triple selection headache wrapped into a single, welcome dilemma four days out from his team’s World Cup opener with Algeria. Januzaj, 19, may not earn a starting place in the Group H clash at Belo Horizonte, but he did enough in the warm-ups to ensure he should still have a vital role to play in the tournament. In the games against, Luxembourg and Tunisia, Januzaj replaced Chelsea’s Eden Hazard with the teenager demonstrating that he can play on the wing, in the number 10 playmaker role and in a central attacking role. “Pressure? I have played for Manchester United in front of tens of thousands of people without fear. Why would it be a problem for me with the national team,” said Januzaj.
Bosnia-Herzegovina reached their first World Cup by playing a brazen full-speed-ahead style of football that netted 30 goals in qualifying. Sticking to that strategy in a big-stage premier against Argentina would be bold – some might say foolish. But there is a good chance that is exactly what is in coach Safet Susic’s plans. Even against an Argentina team led by Lionel Messi, there is only so much he is willing to tweak in his game plan. “It is a dilemma for me, but to sacrifice a player just to man-mark Messi, I don’t think it would be good for us,” Safic said. “I don’t think we have ever played a match having dedicated a player to man-mark a specific opponent, and it’s going to be the same,” against Argentina in tomorrow’s Group F opener.
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