Ambition Portugal will travel to Qatar believing — though possibly not verbalizing — that it can win the tournament. Lionel Messi, after all, is not the only player with a credible claim as the greatest of all time who will be taking the curtain after this World Cup, and if anything Cristiano Ronaldo has a better supporting cast.
Cristiano Ronaldo The simmering furor over his treatment at Manchester United this season — where he has largely been reduced to playing in the Europa League, rather than the Premier League — may have a silver lining. Ronaldo, 37, will certainly not be going into his last World Cup worrying about fatigue.
Key Question There is no prospect of Fernando Santos, Portugal’s gruff, obdurate coach, even thinking about trying to build a team that does not center on Ronaldo, which means he must confront the issue that has foxed three Manchester United coaches: how to accentuate his benefits while masking his drawbacks.