WC qualifying Group F preview

Cristiano Ronaldo will urge his team-mates on from the stands on Tuesday as Portugal look to close in on Group F leaders Russia when they face Azerbaijan.

Last Updated: 25/03/13 at 12:57 Post Comment

Cristiano Ronaldo: Suspended

Cristiano Ronaldo: Suspended

The Real Madrid forward is suspended for the game in Baku which the Portuguese realistically need to win if they are to challenge for automatic qualification to next year's finals in Brazil.

Russia are currently four points clear of second-placed Israel with a 100 per cent record after four matches.

They will also have two games in hand following the postponement in Northern Ireland at the weekend with their next World Cup qualifier not until June.

Portugal are level on points in third but they had to rely on a last-minute Fabio Coentrao goal on Saturday to snatch a 3-3 draw in Tel Aviv.

Now they must win and Ronaldo will do his part by urging his team-mates on.

He told Marca: "It makes me very sad, but everybody knows that being part of the squad is important to me.

"It would be easier to escape by plane and go back to my club, but I like it here and I think I can contribute without playing.

"I like knowing that I am with them in body and soul. On Tuesday, off the field, I'll be there cheering for my teammates to have a good game and we can win, that is our goal."

Neither is the 28-year-old under any illusion as to the task facing Portugal if they are to reach Brazil.

"We know that every time we have more pressure. We cannot draw or lose more games. Our margin of error is zero and so we have to go with the ambition of having to win and that we will do."

Azerbaijan have drawn three of their five games so far.

The other match in the group will see Israel travel to Northern Ireland, no doubt surprised to see themselves above Portugal in second.

It could have been even better had they been able to hold on to a 3-1 lead against Paulo Bento's men but tomorrow they will face a rested Northern Ireland in Belfast after their game was twice called off following heavy snow.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

really enjoyed this. Thanks F365 for another year of work avoidance - happy Christmas.

megabrow (cufc)
Our Person Of The Year: Alan Pardew

I

m no Sam Fan and this article sums him up beautifully. I always like to imagine that when he watches anything on TV and hears clapping, he stands up and aknowledges the applause, thinking its for him!

cozens
Football Managers On TV: Sam Allardyce

N

ah, Fergie is just having another pop at Rooney. He just wants to put him down whenever he gets a chance. Rooney is by far the best English player. Carrick is not far behind, mind. However, by elevating Carrick like that, Sir is having a dig at Wayne. Fergie is well-known for mind games like that. Good to see he's still feisty.

timbo
Van Gaal will thrive - Ferguson

Footer 365

Paul Lambert: Aston Villa's new style here to stay despite lack of goals

Paul Lambert is sure the goals will come for Aston Villa if they persist with their current style of football.

Bobby Zamora tells QPR to give Charlie Austin a new contract

Bobby Zamora has told QPR to sort out Charlie Austin's future before his goals attract bids from elsewhere.

Jose Mourinho: It's only a matter of time before John Terry gets new contract

John Terry will definitely stay at Chelsea beyond the end of his current deal, Jose Mourinho says.

Mail Box

Van Gaal's Half-Term Report Card...

One Man United fan isn't happy with the rate the team is progressing under Louis van Gaal, while the mailbox also wishes Liverpool fans a Merry Mid-Table Christmas...

Hang On, Rafa's Success Is No Fluke...

The afternoon mailbox kicks the morning mailbox's arse after claims that Rafa Benitez has fluked his success. Plus, big talk about Liverpool's progress and lots more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property