Portugal coach Paulo Bento does not expect tomorrow's FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Northern Ireland to become the Cristiano Ronaldo show. The Real Madrid superstar is due to win his 100th international cap in the match, only the third Portuguese to do so after Luis Figo and Fernando Couto.
He is also in irresistible form this season, with 14 goals in 11 club outings to date. The shoulder injury that threatened to delay his landmark appearance is not as bad as initially feared and he is now certain to start at the Dragao Stadium.
A match against a side rated 117th in the FIFA rankings appears the perfect chance for Ronaldo to mark the occasion with fireworks, but Bento has called on him to play his normal game. "We all know Cristiano had an injury coming to us from the Spanish championship but he is fit to pay," said Bento.
"I do not expect anything different from him because of the fact that he is getting his 100th cap. I know that is a figure very few players will reach but I don't foresee anything special because of that reason. What I expect from him is to integrate into the structure we have got and to show all of his ability and quality in the match."
On tomorrow's Group F opponents, Bento expects to face a fierce side. "As for the Northern Irish, I have said they are an aggressive side, especially defensively," he said. "They are an aggressive team and a strong team, very tough in one on ones and duels and they have a good spirit, which is typical of the Irish."