Portugal’s Ronaldo-less national football team will try to prove it is not a one-man squad when it faces off against England at the iconic Wembley stadium at 7.45pm tonight.
The Real Madrid star is taking some extra time off to recover from fatigue after playing and winning a demanding 120-minute Champions League final against Atlético Madrid last weekend.
The news came as a surprise to England manager Roy Hodgson, who hoped to use the friendly against Portugal and Ronaldo as a “dress rehearsal” for dealing with Wales winger Gareth Bale in the upcoming Euro 2016.
“When we thought Portugal, we were thinking not only about their technical qualities and the fact they are a very good football team, but that they also have a special individual (Ronaldo),” Hodgson said.
But though the England coach is disappointed he can’t face CR7, Portugal’s manager Fernando Santos says the absence of the three-time Ballon d’Or winner will not be a problem.
“All of my players are important. Portugal is not a one-man team,” Santos said.
He agreed that “Ronaldo is very important for Portugal” but stressed that he would be for “any other team in the world”.
“This game is a good opportunity to prepare my team to play without him. I hope he can play seven games in France but we need to know how to play without him,” said Santos, who was at the helm of Greece’s national team in the Euro 2012.
This match will be England’s last friendly before the start of the Euro 2016, while Portugal will still play Estonia on June 8 (Wednesday) at Estádio da Luz.