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  • May 31, 2014
  • • 19:30
  • • Estádio Nacional, Jamor, Oeiras
  • Referee: K. Blom
  • • Attendance: 33556

Portugal - Greece Preview: Ronaldo and Pepe to be rested for World Cup warm-up

Portugal - Greece Preview: Ronaldo and Pepe to be rested for World Cup warm-up

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The Real Madrid stars will not be risked by coach Paulo Bento as they continue their recoveries from respective thigh and calf injuries

Portugal will leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of the starting XI for their meeting with Greece in the first of their World Cup warm-up friendlies on Saturday.

The Seleccao captain picked up a minor thigh problem this week and coach Paulo Bento confirmed on Friday that he will not face the team who beat them in the final of Euro 2004 a decade ago.

Real Madrid defender Pepe will also be rested as he continue his recovery from a calf injury which saw him miss the latter stage of the club season, including the Champions League final.

Having beaten tournament hosts Portugal 2-1 in the opening game, Greece once again sprung a surprise in the Lisbon showpiece, securing a stunning 1-0 victory over the same opponents thanks to Angelos Charisteas' goal.

Greece also beat the Portuguese 2-1 in March 2008 in their only meeting since that famous victory 10 years ago, courtesy of a Giorgos Karagounis brace.

Portugal, however, will fancy their chances of gaining a morale-boosting victory at Estadio Nacional on Saturday as they gear up for the upcoming World Cup finals in Brazil.

Having beaten Sweden in a play-off to seal their spot in the tournament, Paulo Bento's side hammered Cameroon 5-1 in March in a landmark fixture for Ronaldo.

The Real Madrid forward became his country's all-time leading scorer by finding the back of the net twice against the African nation to take his tally to 49 goals in 110 appearances.

Portugal have won four of their last five games and will be eager to maintain their momentum ahead of subsequent matches against Mexico and Republic of Ireland.

They will need to hit the ground running when the finals start next month, as a well-backed Germany side are their opponents in their Group G opener at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador on June 16.

The United States and Ghana are Portugal's other opponents in the group phase.

Coach Fernando Santos, who will step down after the World Cup, guided Greece to the World Cup finals for only the third time courtesy of a play-off win over Romania.

Portuguese Santos' immediate focus will be on getting one over his homeland and he will be expecting Kostas Mitroglou to justify his selection in his 23-man squad.

Mitroglou was troubled by injury and a lack of form after joining Fulham in January, but the striker got the nod to board the plane to Brazil regardless having fired 17 goals in 19 games for Olympiakos prior to his Premier League switch.

If the 26-year-old can recapture his form then Greece will be in with a great chance of progressing from Group C - which comprises of Japan, Colombia and Cote d'Ivoire.

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