"He is a great inspiration" - Switzerland star says it is an 'absolute honor' to be facing Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo
Switzerland star Breel Embolo has claimed that it will be an honor to face Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo at the 2022 FIFA World Cup on 6 December.
The Schweizer Nati secured a priceless 3-2 win against Serbia on 2 December to secure qualification as runners-up in Group G. Portugal, meanwhile, won Group H after amassing six points from their three games.
Ronaldo continues to be the centre of attention at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. After leaving Manchester United by mutual consent last month, he irked manager Fernando Santos with his antics after being substituted in the 2-1 loss against South Korea.
This led Santos to publicly call out Ronaldo for his actions. Despite his recent controversies off the pitch, Ronaldo continues to be an inspiration and idol for countless fans and players across the globe.
Embolo is one such individual who is in awe of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner. Speaking to reporters ahead of the last-16 clash, the AC Monaco striker said (h/t India Today):
"I think Cristiano Ronaldo - not just for forwards, but for all athletes, he is a great inspiration and is enriching for our time. And you can only learn from him, from someone like him. And, as a person, as a player, it is an honor to be facing him."
Embolo was not the first Swiss player to praise Cristiano Ronaldo publicly before the encounter. Former Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri recently stated that Switzerland are wary of the threat a goal-scorer like him can pose.
The two teams were drawn into the same group in the 2022 UEFA Nations League. Portugal won 4-0 at home, while Switzerland won 1-0 in Geneva when the two sides met in the competition.
Breel Embolo praises another Portugal veteran alongside Cristiano Ronaldo
After his comments on Cristiano Ronaldo, Embolo, who has scored 13 times in 65 senior games for his country, went on to praise Pepe.
The 39-year-old centre-back is one of the elder statesmen in Santos' side alongside the former Juventus forward. Embolo said, via the aforementioned source:
"He (Pepe) is a good, old wine. I would say he is a legend. I had the chance to play sometimes against him (before). It is really hard. It is still hard. He is still fit. It is always a pleasure to meet a defender like that and, also, to learn a lot from them."
Pepe has started and played the full 90 minutes in Portugal's last two group-stage matches in Qatar and is expected to be in the lineup for the clash against the Swiss.