Cristiano Ronaldo says he has "nothing to prove" at the World Cup as his Portugal side prepare for their opening game against Germany.
The Ballon d'Or winner has been struggling with knee and thigh injuries recently but is expected to captain Paulo Bento's side in Salvador later today.
His record at international level is way off his blistering club form - Ronaldo may have more goals than appearances for club side Real Madrid, but he has just two goals in 10 World Cup matches so far in his career.
Now 29, Ronaldo is expected to be near the scoring charts in this tournament, though Portugal have arguably the toughest group in the tournament with Germany, Ghana and the USA also in Group G.
"If you look at the last few years, they have all been similar years, so they have all been the best of my career," said the former Manchester United star.
Portugal: Group G team profile
Portugal: Group G team profile
1/5 How they qualified
Portugal had a fairly easy task on hand against the likes of Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland and Luxembourg during the qualifiers but eventually failed to advance. A home loss to Russia and three draws led the favorites to second place albeit scoring 20 goals and conceding nine. Portugal then had the daunting task of facing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden at the play-offs – which was a situation that could have gone either way. The Selescao won 1-0 at home but the second leg at Stockholm proved to be the biggest nail-biter of the play-offs as it took a Ronaldo hat trick to book his country’s tickets to Brazil with a 3-2 victory.
Paulo Bento played for Portugal at the 2002 World Cup alongside many legends such as Luis Figo. As a manager, he proved to be able to take the national team far, as Portugal made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2012 under his management. However, he will have to be careful not to repeat the same mistakes he committed at the qualifiers.
3/5 Star player
Cristiano Ronaldo is undoubtedly the team’s heart and soul as thanks to his goals in both play-off matches, Portugal were able to make it to another World Cup. This was a memorable season for CR7 as he won the Champions League as well as the Copa del Rey with Real Madrid, finished as the top scorer of La Liga with 31 goals and was awarded the Ballon d’Or. His incredible skills and athleticism could turn a few matches into a one man show.
4/5 Emerging talent
William Carvalho has only played two matches for Portugal but is already making the papers as possibly the next man to grace Manchester United’s midfield. Thanks to the 22-year-old’s brilliant passing skills and excellent positioning, the Sporting Lisbon star has been established as the team’s starting defensive midfielder.
5/5 How they will line up: (4-3-3)
Beto; Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao; Meireles, Carvalho, Moutinho; Nani, Almeida, Ronaldo.
"But I feel I am in the best moment of my career and I want to continue that moment and enjoy it. I want to be champion but let's take it a step at a time.
"This is a different tournament to 2006 and 2010. There are many new players but only at the end will we know.
"But we have many good players and I believe we will have a good World Cup."
Despite the persistent injury problems that caused him to miss two of Portugal's warm-up matches and play well below his best in the Champions League final, Ronaldo has declared himself fully fit.
"The problems are all in the past," he added in a pre-match press conference.
"If I feel something, and I am sure I won't feel anything during the game, I will not risk my career. I come first and not football.
"Since the start of my career there's not been one single day in which I've played without pain. It's just the burden of my work.
"I'm ready, I'm feeling well. I don't have anything to prove. One player is not a team, I can't carry the whole team on my back."
Despite his dreary World Cup record, Ronaldo scored three goals at Euro 2012 to lead Portugal to the semi-finals, and scored all four goals in the two play-off matches against Sweden. He now has 49 goals in 111 international matches.
"I don't think I have to show anyone anything. Look at my statistics and CV - I have nothing to prove.
"My career has been great so far and I just want to continue."Reuse content