Fri, 01 Dec 2023

DOHA, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Portugal kicks off their World Cup against Ghana on Thursday with Cristiano Ronaldo at the center of attention after it was confirmed on Tuesday that he has parted company with Manchester United with immediate effect.

Although that move will end speculation about his future with the Premier League club, it merely opens another door to another question about where he will play his football in the New Year.

Portuguese defender Ruben Dias insisted on Tuesday that the issue was not a problem in the training camp.

"I don't think Cristiano's affairs have put a dent whatsoever into what we are trying to achieve here, so I don't have much to say about it. As a team, we will focus on the World Cup now and not other issues," he said.

Ronaldo looks sure to start against Ghana as both sides kick off a difficult Group H, which also includes a tough European side and Asian powerhouse, South Korea.

However, the veteran is only one of a wealth of attacking talent at the disposal of coach Fernando Santos, who fielded Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva and Andre Silva in his side's 4-0 win over Nigeria in their recent warm-up match.

Betis midfielder William Carvalho will play in the holding role, with Ruben Dias partnering Benfica youngster Antonio Silva in the heart of the Portuguese defense.

Ghana coach Otto Addo has shown he can be very flexible in his team selection, moving from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-5-2, given Portugal's attack, he's more likely to opt to play three central defenders.

Three fixtures in the Ghana side are central midfielder Thomas Partey, who will provide stability behind Athletic Club Bilbao's lightening fast Inaki Williams and Mohammed Kudus.

Kudus has been in great form with Ajax, with 10 goals in total and four of those in the Champions League. With Williams pressing hard and creating space, he will be optimistic he can continue that form in Qatar.

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