Moscow - Russia football coach Fabio Capello joked on Thursday that he had hoped Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo had picked up a serious injury and would be unavailable for Friday’s World Cup qualifier between the two Group F favourites.
Ronaldo sprained his shoulder in Real Madrid’s 2-2 draw with Barcelona on Sunday after scoring both of Real’s goals but was cleared to join up with the Portugal squad.
“When he picked up a knock in his last match in the Spanish league, of course I hoped it would be serious,” he said.
“It would be much easier for us in defence then,” he added.
As for strategies to cope with Ronaldo, Capello said he recognised the risk of the forward outwitting his Russian defence.
“Every team tries to stop him, every team tries to play against him, but it’s not so simple,” he said.
“We’re going to try to play to the best of our ability in order to neutralise his strengths.”
Defender Alexei Berezutsky said Wednesday that Russia wouldn’t single out Ronaldo for special treatment.
Ronaldo has scored 37 goals in 98 international appearances for Portugal.