Cris of life
CARV: WE’RE NOT RON-HIT WONDERS
FORMER Chelsea and Real Madrid star Ricardo Carvalho believes Portugal’s team spirit combined with the class of Cristiano Ronaldo could help his country go far in the World Cup.
Portugal won the European Championships two years ago beating hosts France in the final but few pundits have backed them to make a big impression in Russia.
They start their bid for glory on Friday night with a mouth-watering Group B clash against Spain in Sochi before taking on Morocco and Iran.
Carvalho, at 38, was the oldest outfield player at Euro 2016 and is heartened by the fact that their successful manager Fernando Santos from that campaign is still in charge of the national team entering the World Cup.
“We have a good team and the same coach which I feel is very important,” said Carvalho.
“The squad is always together and the players work well in tournaments. That was a big reason why Portugal did so well at the Euros.
“At a World Cup there are many very good sides but for Portugal the aim will be to get good results early on, gain confidence in the tournament and have that bit of luck.
“It is a good squad that we are taking to Russia and in Cristiano Ronaldo of course we have a great player so we have a chance to go far. I hope that proves to be the case.”
Carvalho, who won league titles with Chelsea and Real Madrid plus a Champions League with Porto, has been in Belfast this week with his ex-Portugal team-mate and close friend Tiago Mendes taking the Irish FA’s UEFA B Licence coaching course.
He has watched with interest his old Chelsea pal Frank Lampard’s move into management at Derby County.
Carvalho is convinced that Lampard has the drive to be a success in the dugout and feels that another Stamford Bridge legend John Terry will also follow that path.
“I hope Frank does very well. I left Chelsea in 2010 so I played six years with him and it was a pleasure to be beside him,” said Carvalho.
“He was a top guy and even then he was a leader. It will be important for him to start well and I’m sure he is ready for the challenge.
“He is the type of person that would believe he can do well. With Frank I knew he would carry on to be a coach and I feel the same way about John Terry, who was another great player for Chelsea.”
Carvalho, 40, points out though that one thing he has learnt in Belfast is that the transition from player to coach is not an easy one.
“Your experiences as a player will help in management because you understand the game.
“One thing is to understand the game and another thing is to pass it on to the players. That is the challenge.
“You know what you feel and what you see but you have to explain it well to the players.
“It is completely different. As a player when you go to a session you just have to take care of yourself and do it properly and be focused on what the coach is asking you to do.
“Now you have to look at it another way, you have to prepare the session and make sure everything is right for the players.
“You want to push them to their limit to do the best they can every day.”