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Portugal hoping Ronaldo can continue his good form in Russia

18 June 2017

Portugal is hoping a red-hot Cristiano Ronaldo can continue his sparkling form and help the European champions show that their victory at Euro 2016 wasn't a fluke.

Portugal won 1-0 in a friendly in their previous meeting in June 2014, while Mexico's Rafael Marquez is a survivor from his team's 2-1 loss to Portugal in the group stages of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

KAZAN, Russia (AP) - Portugal is not anxious about Cristiano Ronaldo being distracted at the Confederations Cup by talk of his possible departure from Real Madrid.

"It goes without saying that he's a great player".

Few players have succeeded alongside Ronaldo in Portugal's attack recently.

Incredibly, the 32-year-old's remarkable run of success could well be extended into July, what with Portugal one of the favourites to win the Confederations Cup, which begins today in Russian Federation.

Portugal, which made it to the tournament after beating host France in the Euro 2016 final, is in Group A along with Russia, New Zealand and Mexico.

Among the speculation of a shock move to Old Trafford which Ronaldo is pushing for according to Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon, the four time Champions League victor posted a tweet with a sole Portugal flag. "He is taking this competition very seriously and is fully focused on training and on the match against Mexico".

Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in his last 11 matches, including two in Portugal's 3-0 win at Latvia in a European World Cup qualifier last week, the team's last match before the Confederations Cup opener against Mexico. The team, included in Group A, will play Mexico (in Kazan on June 18), Russian Federation (in Moscow on June 21) and New Zealand (in St. Petersburg on June 24).

Before the Champions League final two weeks ago, when Madrid won its second consecutive title with two goals by Ronaldo, the star forward said that he was never jeered while playing for Manchester United, and that he missed his time in England even though he loved living in Madrid and playing for Real Madrid. "I have the same confidence today", Portugal coach Fernando Santos said earlier this week.

The CONCACAF champions face a tough task as they face a Portugal squad that boasts world superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mexico's squad has three players who have close connections to Portugal. That has prompted speculation linking him with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United among others but Silva, who moved to Milan from Porto earlier this month, insists the four-time Champions League victor remains focused on his country's upcoming matches.

Defender Miguel Layun and midfielder Hector Herrera play for FC Porto, while forward Raul Jimenez plays for Benfica. The Portuguese are making their debut in this competition and have the players to get off to a flying start on Sunday against Mexico.