Portugal coach Fernando Santos has given an update on Cristiano Ronaldo and his status for this year’s UEFA Nations League.
On Tuesday, the Portuguese football federation announced that the Juventus star and Portugal striker had tested positive for the coronavirus. The devastating news saw the 35-year-old being ruled out of Portugal’s Wednesday Nations League match against Sweden.
Ronaldo’s national side coach remains confident that Portugal can still compete but admitted that the team captain’s absence is a huge loss. For now, Santos is holding on to the fact that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has insisted that he wants to play.
“He [Ronaldo] just says that he wants to play,” Santos said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday while responding to questions about his star forward, Marca reported.
“Any player who is absent due to COVID-19 is a big loss, and Ronaldo’s absence is probably even greater [than anyone else’s],” the coach continued. “But I have absolute confidence in those players who are going to play.”
Santos said that the team will have the same gameplan for the succeeding matches even without Ronaldo. However, the veteran coach also acknowledged the fact that “CR7” is the kind of player who has the ability to dictate the game.
“The plan is the same,” he affirmed. “But the dynamics are different. Cristiano has his own characteristics. No team is better without the best player in the world. But this team has already shown that they have the ability to respond as a collective [unit]. I have full confidence in my players.”
The Portuguese football federation confirmed that Ronaldo has not shown symptoms and is now in isolation. The soccer superstar was later spotted monitoring the team’s training session from the terrace of the bedroom he is staying at in Portugal’s City of Football headquarters, ESPN reported.
Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo has yet to address Ronaldo’s situation. However, the Old Lady manager lauded Ronaldo for his exceptional work ethic in his last statement prior to his talisman testing positive for coronavirus.
“I’m happy to have this icon of world football, to see him every day, to have him at my disposal, to see him train, to see him play,” Pirlo recently told UEFA. “It’s an enormous pleasure for me and for the whole team. He’s someone who works the same now at 35 as he did as a young lad, with the same passion to play football every day. He’s an example for all of us.”