Portugal hoping Ronaldo can continue his good form in Russia

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"He is motivated, just like me", said the 21-year-old Silva at a news conference in Kazan ahead of Portugal's opening Confederations Cup match against Mexico on Sunday. The Real Madrid forward, who has scored 12 goals in his last six games for Portugal, has won a number of club and global competitions as well as several individual awards.

"Obviously there are no words to describe what Cristiano means to our country, with everything that he has achieved", Portugal defender Bruno Alves said on Thursday.

A good performance at the Confederations Cup will virtually secure him a fifth world player of the year award, equaling Lionel Messi. Nani, Ricardo Quaresma and Eder were in the squad when Portugal won the European championship a year ago, with Eder scoring the extra-time victor in the final against host France, but none made it to Fernando Santos' squad for the Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up event.

Ronaldo has scored 11 goals in five games with Portugal this season.

"It's a high-profile match", Mexico forward Hirving Lozano said. "But we're a great side too, and I'm sure we can stop him", striker Raul Jimenez, a Portuguese league and cup double victor with Benfica, told FIFA.com.

Ronaldo will be playing his first match since being accused of defrauding Spain's tax office of 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million) in unpaid taxes.

Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.

While Portugal are favourites to edge El Tri, they know the power of the underdog all too well, as the Selecção, who were massive underdogs at last year's European Championships, stunned the world by lifting their maiden global title. "I'm sure everyone wants to ask the same question, but we are representing Portugal and are playing tomorrow against Mexico".

Qualifying teams in this year's competition include Russia, New Zealand, Portugal, Mexico, Cameroon, Chile, Australia, and Germany. Portugal, which made it to the tournament after beating host France in the Euro 2016 final, is in Group A along with Russia, New Zealand and Mexico.

Germany, who qualified for the eight-team event by winning the World Cup in 2014, have a 38 percent chance of winning the final in St. Petersburg on July 2, according to ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI).

Portugal and Chile go into the Confederations Cup with full-strength squads and ambitions to win another major title after continental glory.

"Since I joined the national team I've felt very welcomed", Silva said. "It is an aggressive team, pressing you all the time, but I think that we have enough quality to win this game".

(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis). Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo plays with the ball during a training session at Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

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