Ronaldo expecting tough Norway test
Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo insists patience will be the name of the game when his side host Norway in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in Lisbon tomorrow night. Portugal can go top of Group H if they avenge a 1-0 defeat to Norway in Oslo last year, but the Real Madrid superstar is predicting Egil Olsen's team to line up defensively in a bid to snatch a point.
"We expect a team that will line up behind the line of the ball with all players," he told the Portuguese federation's official website fpf.pt. "It will be difficult to break into their defence. With great patience, we will succeed and if we play to our normal level, we can win."
Portugal have recovered from a slow start to the campaign, drawing 4-4 against Cyprus in the opener followed by the single-goal defeat to Norway. Victory at the Estadio da Luz will take them level on points with the Scandinavians, but Portugal will have the better goal difference.
Ronaldo, back in the squad after missing the friendly matches against Chile and Finland, added: "It will be a tough game, but I'm confident we'll play a fantastic game. When we are competing in a full stadium, we have the motivation to want to play well and play better."
Ronaldo's Madrid team-mate Ricardo Carvalho will miss out because of a back problem, but goalkeeper Eduardo should feature even though the Genoa man missed training for personal reasons.
Norway star John Arne Riise missed the home victory over Portugal due to a head injury suffered in training and told Aftenbladet: "I was very upset when I missed that match, but there was nothing I could do. I lay in bed and watched the match on TV. Now I'm ready, and I love to play in the big games. It is an experience."
Set-piece specialist Riise revealed he is an admirer of Ronaldo, and admits the Portuguese superstar's ball-striking ability is a wonder to behold. "Ronaldo is Ronaldo. He is in the top two players in the world. I have great respect for him, and you must try to learn from the best," he said. "I have seen his free-kicks on DVD, both in slow-motion and slow-slow-motion. I've tried to emulate the way he strikes the ball in training, it's something I've been practising but I have not got to that level yet."
Eighteen-year-old Rosenborg midfielder Markus Henriksen has received his first senior call-up from Norway boss Egil Olsen.
In the other match in Group H tomorrow night, Denmark face Scandinavian rivals Iceland in Reykjavik aiming to complete a double and also move on to ten points. Morten Olsen's men sneaked a 1-0 win in Copenhagen last September with Thomas Kahlenberg's late goal, a night which highly-rated midfielder Christian Eriksen has mixed memories of.
The Ajax man started his first competitive match for Denmark that night, but failed to shine and was substituted in the 56th minute. "Last time we had luck, but on Saturday we must finish the chances," he told Ekstra Bladet. "Iceland plays very compact, so it's all about timing if we are to have success."
Leeds goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, the son of EURO 92 hero Peter, could make his first senior appearance for Denmark, who have not lost to Iceland in 21 games. Iceland are bottom of the group, with just one point from their four matches so far.