Portugal vs Ghana predictions: Ronaldo set for date with destiny
Cristiano Ronaldo could set a new World Cup record if he finds the net for Portugal in their opening Group H clash with Ghana on Thursday.
Currently part of an exclusive club of four men to score at four finals, Ronaldo could stand alone as the only player to net at five consecutive events with a goal in the Middle East.
A win in the most famous competition of all is the only jewel missing from the attacking star's crown and his Portuguese side begin their quest for a first global title against the Black Stars.
Ghana ran to the brink of the last four in 2010 before an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to Uruguay sent them home. However, the African Outfit have failed to reach those heights since, falling in the group stage in 2014 and missing out on qualification in 2018.
While Renato Sanches and Diogo Jota both missed out on Fernando Santos's 26-man final squad through injury, the Portugal boss still has a plethora of famous faces under his wing in Qatar.
Joining Ronaldo among the ranks are Joao Cancelo, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Rafael Leao, to name just four.
Ronaldo missed the friendly win over Nigeria on Thursday with gastroenteritis but was back in training by Saturday and is expected to take centre stage as Portugal open their campaign.
Ghana boss Otto Addo can call on Athletic Bilbao's Inaki Williams and Mohammed Kudus of Ajax in attack, along with Premier League names such as Daniel Amartey, Tariq Lamptey, Jordan Ayew and Mohammed Salisu.
The two sides met in Group G at World Cup 2014, with Portugal running out 2-1 winners. In their quest for revenge, Ghana can take some solace from the fact that their opponents on Thursday have lost two of their last four fixtures.
They suffered 1-0 defeats against both Spain and Switzerland in the Nations League, as Santos's men fell to second place.
Ronaldo and his teammates also had to struggle through a qualification playoff, having been pipped to automatic progression by Serbia. But since, Portugal have won six out of their nine matches and they come up against a Ghana outfit who have won just three of their last six matches.
The Ghanaians are ranked 61st in the world, making them the lowest-ranked nation in Qatar.
While perhaps not considered to be in the same bracket as favourites Brazil, Portugal are regarded as a strong shout for a slot in the latter knockout stages and are not envisaged to struggle overly in the group phase against Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.
With his Manchester United departure now confirmed, Ronaldo can welcome in the new year by looking toward the future and laying claim to an individual World Cup goalscoring record would begin this new chapter in style.