Betting Special: Why Portugal could fail to qualify for the knockout stages despite Ronaldo's return

Phil Kitromilides explains why he thinks that not even the Real Madrid star will be enough to help Paulo Bento's men to make it out of a tricky looking Group G in Brazil
As he has shown on numerous occasions, Cristiano Ronaldo is a man who likes a challenge and there is no greater challenge for the Portuguese forward than leading his side to glory in Brazil.

In terms of winning the tournament, Portugal are relative outsiders, offered at 28/1 (29.00) by Paddy Power - the same price as South American champions Uruguay and perennial underachievers England.

The outright price looks about right as the Portuguese can muster a relatively strong first XI yet boast precious little strength in depth.

It would be dissmissive of the prodigious talent possessed by the likes of Nani and Joao Moutinho to suggest that the Portuguese are a one-man team yet there is an enormous amount of responsibilty and reliance placed upon Ronaldo and his goals.

The Real Madrid forward ended the season not quite fully fit and question-marks remain about how close he is to being at his rampaging best, yet his country needs him badly, especially given their lack of a prolific centre forward.

It is a testament to the regard in which Ronaldo is held that he is still the fourth favorite to finish as top goalscorer at 16/1 (17.00).

In other circumstances that might have been a bet worth considering but it looks extremely unlikely to pay out, given Portugal's group.

The side, however, are still fancied to make it through to the knockout stages, with Paddy Power making them odds-on at 4/9 (1.44) to qualify from Group G.

That price does not appeal but the odds of 13/8 (2.62) for Portugal to not qualify from the group are actually pretty inviting given the circumstances.

Paulo Bento's men face their toughest game first against Germany. Lose that match and they are in trouble, especially if either Ghana or United States win the other match.

With a threadbare squad, some hugely competitive games and doubts over the full fitness of their star player, Portugal do not make an attractive prospect and opposing them to make it to the knockout stages looks like it could be an intelligent bet.

Portugal not to qualify from their group at 13/8 (2.62) 3.0pt stake with Paddy Power

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports journalist and TV presenter in Madrid