Cristiano Ronaldo was recalled by the Portuguese national squad yesterday for the first time since last year’s World Cup.
The 34-year-old, who is Portugal’s most capped player with 154 appearances and all-time leading scorer with 85 goals, had not been included for any games in the second half of last year.
Coach Fernando Santos had initially said that a mutual decision had been made to give Ronaldo a rest following his move from Real Madrid to Juventus but had been ambiguous about the player’s future when questioned in November.
Portugal continued to flourish without Ronaldo, winning their Nations League group against Poland and Italy with a game to spare to qualify for the final four-team tournament which the country will host in June.
However, any doubts about his future were removed when Ronaldo’s name was among 25 read by Santos during a news conference for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Ukraine and Serbia
“Cristiano is the best player in the world and is returning to his team,” said Santos. “Any team is stronger with him.”
Portugal host Serbia in Lisbon on March 22 and Ukraine three days later.
Meanwhile, Spain coach Luis Enrique has dropped Real Madrid midfielder Isco and Atletico Madrid pair Koke and Saul from his squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Malta while handing a return to Sevilla veteran Jesus Navas.
Navas, 33, has reinvented himself in the last two campaigns as a right back since returning to Sevilla from Manchester City in 2017, and has earned a first call up to the squad since the 2014 World Cup.
The full squad list is:
Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga, David de Gea, Pau Lopez
Defenders: Jose Luis Gaya, Jordi Alba, Juan Bernat, Mario Hermoso, Inigo Martinez, Sergio Ramos, Sergi Gomez, Sergi Roberto, Jesus Navas
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Rodri, Dani Ceballos, Fabian Ruiz, Dani Parejo, Sergio Canales
Forwards: Marco Asensio, Rodrigo Moreno, Alvaro Morata, Iker Muniain, Jaime Mata.–AFP