Ronaldo's Portugal arrive in Russia for World Cup

2018-06-09 19:14
Cristiano Ronaldo (AFP)

Moscow - Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal arrived on Saturday in Russia to begin final preparations for a Soccer World Cup campaign that pits them against arch-rivals Spain.

The European champions play their Iberian neighbours in the 2014 Winter Olympics host city Sochi in the opening match for both nations Friday.

Ronaldo and his compatriots received a traditional Russian welcome during a bread and salt ceremony upon arrival at their team base camp in Kratovo, a leafy village 40km southeast of Moscow.

The Real Madrid star was the last player off the team bus escorted by police to the team's tournament headquarters after touching down at Zhukosvky Airport on the outskirts of Moscow.

Portugal are scheduled to hold their first team session at the Saturn training centre at 11:30 local time on Sunday.

Fernando Santos's side will need no reminding of the importance of their opening match against Spain, after a 4-0 defeat by Germany in Brazil four years ago set the tone for a dismal group stage exit.

The winner on June 15 at Sochi's Fisht Stadium will be in pole position to come out on top in a Group B that also includes Morocco and Iran.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the last 16.

The Spaniards arrived at their own base in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar on Thursday.

Portugal are ranked fourth by FIFA and won nine of their 10 European qualifying group matches.

It will be the team's seventh World Cup appearance and the 33-year-old Ronaldo's fourth and likely last campaign.

Their best result saw them finish third in 1966.

More In This Category

Thomas Mueller says the Germans' shock early exit from the World Cup will provide "huge motivation" when he starts the new season.
Russian police have unexpectedly released Pussy Riot punk group members while they still face charges for invading the pitch at the World Cup football final.
Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has pledged his continued loyalty to the Serie A outfit amid reported interest from Europe's elite clubs.
New Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui says Gareth Bale is happy at the club and will reject any transfer move to Manchester United.