Lens, France (dpa) - Cristiano Ronaldo is being backed by his Portugal team-mates to fire them into the Euro 2016 quarter-finals on Saturday but opponents Croatia are confident they can see off his threat.
"Everyone knows Cristiano and what he can do at any time, in any minute in a game," his strike-partner Nani told a news conference Friday. "I am 100 per cent sure he will go on and score more goals now."
Ronaldo failed to score in Portugal's opening Group F games against Iceland and Austria, when he missed a penalty, but burst into life with two goals and an assist against Hungary.
That ensured Portugal crept into the last 16 as one of the best third-placed teams but they have been dealt a tough draw against Croatia - who topped Group D having beaten reigning champions Spain.
"Any team we play, we must believe we can win so it doesn't matter who we will face now," Nani said.
"It will be difficult against Croatia. They have one day more than us to rest but we are professional, so we will get a quick rest and prepare for the game."
Croatia eased into the knock-out stages with minimal fuss but have concerns over striker Mario Mandzukic and midfielder Luka Modric.
"I can't say if they will make it through the whole game but it is looking good," coach Ante Cacic said. Cacic will make a final decision on whether they start just before the game.
If they miss out, midfielder Ivan Rakitic will be expected to step up and out-gun Ronaldo in a battle of the stars - as he did with his club in the Spanish League last season.
“I was ahead of Ronaldo’s Real Madrid all season with Barcelona,” Rakitic said. “I expect it to be the same in the European Championship.”
Friday, July 8, 2016 - 13:34
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