Ronaldo expected to play for Portugal against US

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 21, 2014 at 7:11 pm •  Published: June 21, 2014
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MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo will play, and Portugal needs to win.

The world player of the year hasn't been able to shake a lingering left knee injury since coming to Brazil, but he trained normally Saturday and is expected to start Sunday when the Portuguese face the United States in a crucial Group G match at the World Cup.

"He trains everyday with all of us. So Cristiano is fit to play," Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles said Saturday. "That's all I can say."

Ronaldo took the field with the rest of his teammates and did several running drills, not appearing to be affected by the injury. He did, however, again have some wrapping below his left knee.

Portugal lost its opening match to Germany 4-0, and another loss on Sunday will mean immediate elimination from the World Cup. The Americans, however, won their opening game and can secure a spot in the second round with another victory.

As usual when Ronaldo plays, though, the outcome of the match can be easily swayed by a moment of brilliance from the Real Madrid winger.

"He's strong physically. He's a fast runner. He's the best in the world with the ball at his feet," United States goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "That's why he's the best player in the world.

"We're going to do our best to bottle him up."

Ronaldo played in the loss to Germany on Monday, but he has since been seen at training with a brace on his left knee.

If he is not 100 percent healthy for the match at the Arena da Amazonia, an already undermanned Portugal could struggle to earn the three points needed to stay in the tournament.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento, however, said he is not putting any pressure on his star player.