THE 2022 World Cup looks set to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last chance to claim international football’s ultimate prize.
With any other player you’d wonder if a bombshell interview on the eve of a tournament would be a mighty distraction but you just know the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will be ultra focused on Portugal’s task at hand once the action is underway in Qatar.
Fernando Santos’ side are favourites to win Group H where they’ll battle it out with Uruguay, Ghana and South Korea, so Dream Team World Cup bosses might want to take note of their star players, potential flops and bargain options.
He’s been mentioned once already, and you’ll likely hear plenty more about Ronaldo before this tournament is over.
Only 6.3% of managers have selected the Portuguese talisman at this stage, perhaps a reflection of his less-than-ideal preparation, but still the figure is remarkable.
Ronaldo is the top goalscorer in the history of men’s international football and will be the focal point for Portugal’s attack, plus the primary penalty-taker.
He should be fresh coming into this tournament having featured sparingly at Manchester United and his provisional fee of £6.5 – £7m could look cheap in a couple of weeks’ time.
Bernardo Silva could have a big tournament given his impressive club form in recent times.
The Manchester City playmaker has seven goal involvements (2G, 5A) so far this season and had four in total during the World Cup qualifying campaign.
While club mate Joao Cancelo goes into this tournament as he did on the domestic front – the most expensive defender in the game.
With Portugal favourites to win their group, the chances for clean sheets looks a strong one, particularly with three shutouts in their last five games.
But it’s going forward where Cancelo thrives and the opportunity to contribute in the final third could be vital to your team’s fortunes this winter – with 17.4% of managers agreeing so far.
He gave Ronaldo a frosty reception when meeting up, now Bruno Fernandes is hoping he doesn’t blow cold himself this winter.
The Old Trafford playmaker has a relatively modest record at international level with just nine goals in 48 caps.
And two goals and one assist in the Premier League this term doesn’t make great reading either so he might be one to swerve this time around.
So too could team-mate Diogo Dalot who has had a good campaign domestically and is fourth in the Season game’s defenders’ points standings to now.
But that will likely count for nothing here with Cancelo switching to right-back to accommodate Nuno Mendes at left-back.
That hasn’t put managers off however, with 13.5% including the United man – a schoolboy mistake perhaps?
Ruben Neves will likely play alongside William Carvalho in the engine room.
However, that pairing provides the solidity in the midfield to allow Fernandes and Silva the opportunity to focus more on attack — and defensive midfielders are a red flag in Dream Team!
It’s difficult to really get much of a bargain out the bigger nations, particularly when favourites to storm their group.
But when looking through the players set to play it might be worth looking at Nuno Mendes.
The PSG man is likely to get the nod at lef- back and it could prove an inspired choice.
Not only is his provisional fee lower than that of Cancelo and City team-mate Ruben Dias, but he is currently an undervalued pick with less than 2% of managers selecting him so far – which is less too than compatriot Pepe.
Rafael Leao could also prove to be shrewd business with Diogo Jota out the tournament.
The 23-year-old has been excellent for an AC Milan side sitting second in Serie A, chipping in with an impressive seven goals and nine assists in all competitions.
He only has four caps coming into this tournament but that figure will surely increase and at £4.5 – £5m he is much cheaper that some in the midfield slot and he plays in an attacking wide role.