Portugal and Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo said in an interview on Thursday that there were “difficult battles” ahead if his country had to compete in the World Cup for the sixth time in a row.
Portugal, the European champion of 2016, will face Turkey in the semifinal in March before the final against Italy, the team that replaced him last year as kings of the continent.
“It would be very sad if we did not achieve our goal, which is the World Cup,” the five-time Ballon d’Or winner told. ESPN Brazil.
Ronaldo has not missed a major international tournament since playing for Portugal in 2003.
He has played in four World Cups and five Euros, and reached the final in 2004.
“In football and in life we face challenges, but the important thing is to be able to start again,” he said.
“We know we have a tough fight, first against Turkey. And if we win, I think it will be against Italy. We will see. In March we will be ready, it will be a war, it will be good for football fans.”
Portugal will host Turkey on March 24 while Italy plays North Macedonia, and the final five days thereafter.
At least one of the last two European champions will not travel to the World Cup in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.
“It’s life, there are no perfect events. We have to face things as they really are,” said Ronaldo, who has been linked with a move back to Old Trafford this season.
While his 14-goal return in 21 games in all competitions is impressive, United are struggling for seventh place in the Premier League, despite reaching the last 16 of the Champions League and the FA Cup in the fourth round.