StoryWill Ronaldo Feature For Portugal In Nations League?

Portugal were drawn against Switzerland in the semi-finals of the first ever UEFA Nations League competition. The reigning European Champions have a further opportunity to add silverware to their collection - in addition to their Euro 2016 crown - by winning the tournament on home soil in 2019.

Cristiano Ronaldo may not have many further opportunities left to bolster his already illustrious career, but winning another international competition with his team as the host nation would be another hallmark – and another notch on his belt in his legacy battle with Lionel Messi. The 33-year-old was left out of the Portugal squad for the Nations League matches.

However, Fernando Santos has insisted that his star man is still part of his plans moving forward. It would be a huge surprise to see Ronaldo opt out of a tournament, especially in Portugal where his team are backed in the latest international betting odds at 2/1 to win the Nations League, although the challenge beyond Switzerland of England or the Netherlands could be a daunting one.

With Ronaldo in place, Portugal still have the best marksman in the teams left in the competition. Whether he is operating at the peak of his powers by the time the Nations League is played is another matter. Although the 33-year-old remains in excellent physical and mental condition, he will have played a lot of matches for Juventus, which could include a run to the Champions League. The Bianconeri will be hopeful that he will be playing in the final at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1.

However, Portugal’s clash against Switzerland takes place just four days later. Ronaldo proved at Euro 2016 that he could cope with the rigours of a long season to play a pivotal role in the Selecao’s triumph – albeit the forward missed a large chunk of the final due to injury. He did it once again in the early stages of the World Cup, scoring a brilliant hat-trick against Spain, although he faded as the tournament progressed and was powerless in his team’s exit at the hands of Uruguay in the round-of-16. Given that the Nations League will only be two matches at the most, there’s hope that Ronaldo will be fit and firing for the contests to win glory for Portugal on home soil.

Andre Silva did the heavy lifting during the four Nations League matches that Ronaldo was not part of. He scored the decisive goal against Italy in the clash between the sides in Lisbon, while the forward netted in his team’s victory on the road over Poland before striking again in the home tie. The 23-year-old has found new life since his move to Sevilla after struggling for form last season for AC Milan in Serie A. Silva carried his form into the internationals, and, looking ahead, he could be the perfect foil to ease the pressure on Ronaldo at the end of a long campaign. Although Ronaldo may have issues with his national side at the moment, he will certainly not want to miss out on another crown in his career. Portugal have the quality and the inspiration on home soil to win the Nations League, especially with him in the ranks.