Cristiano Ronaldo’s confidence has not been compromised by recent disappointments with Juventus, according to Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
Due to coronavirus travel limits, Portugal will play their first match against Azerbaijan on Wednesday at the Juventus Stadium in Turin.
Ronaldo has come under pressure in Italy after Juventus’ Champions League last-16 loss to Porto, as well as the weekend loss by Benevento, which dropped them 10 points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan.
Santos described Ronaldo, 36, as a “very good friend” and said he considered the player to be in good spirits.
“We’ve always been close, very good friends, we don’t even have a coach-player relationship,” Santos, 66, said at a press conference.
“(Ronaldo) certainly reflects high quality; when he’s with the band, he exudes peace and pleasure.”
Ronaldo is attempting to crack Ali Daei’s all-time men’s international goalscoring record, with the former Real Madrid striker falling just seven goals shy of the Iranian’s 109.
“He’s a key figure, perhaps the best in the world,” Santos said. “I don’t believe he has any emotional issues at the moment.”
Portugal has played for seven World Cups, making the semi-finals in 1966 and 2006.
Along with Ronaldo, they have a plethora of attacking talent, including Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United, Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid, and Diogo Jota of Liverpool.
Santos claims the World Cup is “not only a fantasy but one that will certainly come true” after securing their first major title at Euro 2016.
“We know Ronaldo is still looking for new trophies, but all of the players want to win the World Cup,” he said.
“We will compete to become world champions.”
About the fact that Portugal, ranked seventh, is the favorite against Azerbaijan, ranked 108th, Santos warned: “We must not undervalue anybody. We are aware that Azerbaijan can be extremely risky on the counter-attack.”