Germany v Portugal: 'I am at 100%,' claims Cristiano Ronaldo despite struggling with knee problems

World Player of the Year has been battling to be ready for the opener

Salvador

Some 4,000 miles separate Salvador from Lisbon but it was possible to close your eyes here yesterday and imagine a collective sigh of relief from 10 million Portuguese. After countless bulletins, scare stories and photos of icepacks, Cristiano Ronaldo stepped into the press conference room of the Arena Fonte Nova – fashionably late – and gave the news that Portugal and indeed the whole of Brazil too has been hoping for: the Fifa World Player of the Year is ready to join the party.

Ronaldo will lead Portugal out at their opening Group G game against Germany and, reading between the lines, will be playing through the pain barrier to do so. The 29-year-old said: “I want to be at 110 per cent but am at 100 per cent and that is enough to help the national team.”

Ronaldo has been struggling with knee problems for some time and although he was able to play in Real Madrid’s Champions League final victory, he missed two of Portugal’s three friendlies before arriving in Brazil. The problem is tendinosis in the region around his left kneecap and he explained: “I have been training now for some days. That is because I am OK and feeling well. I would like to have no pain but is not possible – there’s never a day I have no pain whatsoever. There has not been one single moment I’ve played a match without pain. It is a burden of my work. I am ready and feeling well and really want to do a great World Cup.”

 

This is the third World Cup for a player who helped Portugal reach the semi-finals in 2006 and he would doubtless love to light up the tournament in a way he has the English and Spanish leagues and Champions League, in which he set a record for 17 goals in 2013/14. Ronaldo’s only two World Cup goals in ten appearances were scored against Iran and North Korea, which is hardly the record a player of his standing would wish for – not least when his only rival for the billing of Portugal’s greatest player, Eusebio, hit nine in the 1966 finals.

Yet he balked at the notion that he had anything to prove. “If we look at my stats and my resume, I think I have no words for that question,” he said. “I don’t have to demonstrate anything. I just have to continue my career which has been great so far.

“Tomorrow we have a match against one of the favourites [but] we have our weapons – we are not among the favourites but will enjoy this as much as possible,” said Ronaldo, who cited his Real Madrid team’s unexpectedly comprehensive semi-final win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League as reason to believe Portugal might surprise the Germans. And while a victory for Paulo Bento’s men at the Arena Fonte Nova would raise eyebrows, it is fair to say Germany’s preparations for this World Cup have not run as smoothly as they would have liked.

There were questions at Low’s press conference yesterday lunchtime about the helicopter that had whisked Bastian Schweinsteiger to a nearby clinic from Germany’s Porto Seguro base for medical tests on Saturday. Low brushed away worries about the Bayern man’s injury by explaining it was simply to meet a FIFA demand for “another medical check for insurance reasons”.

Schweinsteiger has not been the only injury concern. Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer – absent from the final two warm-up matches with a shoulder problem – have all had problems but all three will start today, with Lahm in the defensive midfield slot he now occupies for Bayern.

Low will play centre-back Jerome Boateng at right-back to try limit Ronaldo’s threat. If Ronaldo is the focus of Portugal’s attacks, Germany will look to three players – a fluid, rotating front three of Thomas Muller alongside the Arsenal pair of Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski – in the absence of Marco Reus, Bundesliga player of the year, who is nursing an injured ankle in Germany. “We have shown we are team can draw on lots of talent, we have lots of possibilities,” said Low. “We have different types of player. Ozil and Muller have different ways of playing than [Andre] Schurrle and Podolski.”

At the last World Cup Germany blew away England and then Argentina but came up short against Spain. At Euro 2012 they won their first four games – including a 1-0 opening-match success over the Portuguese – but lost to Italy in the semi-finals. Low, now in his fourth tournament at the helm, believes Germany have the potential to “make it really far”  but believes the three-time winners will need some luck too to finally end a trophy drought stretching back to Euro 96. “In tournaments you know four or five matches is not enough to win title. It is our task as coaches to make sure the team maintains its highest level of performance over a four-week period. Injuries do or can be serious setbacks [and] you need that extra bit of luck.” Ronaldo would agree with that.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower