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The Portugal coach says he is stunned by the Ballon d'Or candidate's progress in recent years, while hitting out at the timing of Wednesday night's friendly

Portugal coach Paulo Bento has admitted that he did not foresee Cristiano Ronaldo's meteoric rise to the top ahead of his side's friendly with Panama on Wednesday.

The Real Madrid attacker is considered one of the frontrunners to win the 2012 Ballon d'Or, after helping Real Madrid to the Liga title and leading Portugal to the semifinals of Euro 2012.

"A few years ago we saw that he was a great talent," he told Marca.

"However, perhaps we did not see him becoming what he is now for both his club and his national team. He is extraordinary."

Bento went on to bemoan the current schedule of international matches and claimed that the footballing authorities are more concerned about making money.

"To me it seems like common sense to have a match with 11 substitutions at a moment like this in the season, after a major international competition.

"The problem is that UEFA and FIFA think about advertising and marketing less than they do about sport. The welfare of players is at stake."

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