Manchester United and Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed he is relishing the prospect of meeting England in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 in Lisbon on Thursday evening.
Ronaldo insists that Portugal would not fear England, and also revealed he is looking forward to lining up against his Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville. Neville and Arsenal’s Ashley Cole will be given the responsibility of subduing Ronaldo and Luis Figo, who will look to switch wings regularly as they did so successfully in Sunday’s victory over arch rivals Spain.
Ronaldo has revealed that he is looking forward to the challenge at the Estadio da Luz.
“I expect to beat him several times,” Ronaldo said of Neville, who has yet to face the 19 year-old after missing England’s friendly in September with the hosts.
“I know that my runs are helping my team and I want that to continue on Thursday, but the most important thing is that Portugal wins.”
Ronaldo was impressive as the hosts knocked out Spain, in what was only his second start for Portugal, but he believes the task ahead will be tougher for his team.
“England have a strong defence and are a good team with a strong collective mentality. Only at our best can we beat them, but we don’t fear anyone and we’re looking forward to the game,” he said.
The former Sporting Lisbon starlet also claimed that his team are not unduly worried by Wayne Rooney, whose impact in his first major tournament has encouraged comparisons with a young Pele from both the media and coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.
The 18 year-old Everton striker has scored four goals in three group matches, making him the tournament’s leading scorer, but Ronaldo insisted that Portugal will not fear him.
“England are not only Rooney – David Beckham and Michael Owen are wonderful players also,” he argued.
“Rooney is a young guy catching the eye, but we won’t fear him. We will have the fans on our side, and after the result against Spain they have started to believe in us.”
“The Portugal team are not afraid of anyone. Not France, not Spain and not England.”