•Fernandes can also shine against weakened opponents
UEFA Nations League title holders Portugal will start off their 2020-21 campaign as they take on Croatia at the Estadio do Dragao in League A Group 3 on Saturday night and their talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping to reach another milestone. Ronaldo has been the main spine of the Portuguese side that is making winning their culture after the Juventus forward propelled them to the Nations League title last year, three years after he captained the outfit to success at the Euro Championship in France.
The Selecao will on Saturday (today) begins the UEFA Nations League title defence and the former Manchester United forward will also be bidding to break yet another record. The Real Madrid legend has shattered many records in his glittering career but becoming the first European to score 100th international goal will rank among the best of his achievements and that is why he would throw everything into it to ensure he reaches that milestone while he also helps his team in the process.
There have been suggestions he might sit out the game due to a toe infection but in most situations like this, Ronaldo usually shake off such impediments and it won’t be out of place to see the imperial striker leading his men to battle today. Portugal and Croatia have played each other five times in the past. Croatia have never won against Saturday’s opponents. Portugal have won three times and two games have ended in a draw.
However, it is unlikely the Croats will secure their first victory over Portugal especially considering the quality of the cast around Ronaldo. Notably among them is Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes who ended the season in a terrific form.
The midfielder joined the Red Devils in January from Lisbon and practically ended this term as their best player winning the English Premier League Player of the Month on two occasions. Fernandes was named in the UEFA Nations League Team of the Tournament last year at about the time his immense talent hadn’t been quite appreciated by all and the 25-year-old will be keen to further cement his place as one of the best players around with another convincing display against the Croats.
Coach Fernando Santos’s side have won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, including a 2-0 success away to Luxembourg in their last game in November 2019 and with the help of Ronaldo and Fernandes, they can continue that impressive streak when they host Croatia today.