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Soccer-Portugal must show they do not rely on Ronaldo - Bento

Reuters

By David Ljunggren

MANAUS, Brazil, June 21 (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo is the world's best player but should not be expected to win games on his own for Portugal, coach Paulo Bento said on Saturday amid relentless probing about the prolific forward.

More than half the questions addressed to both Portuguese and U.S. news conferences ahead of the teams' second Group G game on Sunday were about Ronaldo, an indication of how much attention the World Player of the Year regularly generates.

Portugal lost their first game 4-0 against Germany and Bento said they needed to beat the Americans to stand any chance of making the knockout stages.

Ronaldo, who has been battling a knee injury, did not play well against the Germans.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world ... we just want him and the others to do their best. We don't expect that Ronaldo alone will settle the match. We are as here as a team," Bento told a news conference on Saturday.

"I would never put on his shoulders the responsibility of solving our problems. This is my responsibility."

Midfielder Raul Meireles said he did not find it unusual that the media continually asked about Ronaldo, who was not even at the news conference.

"I think that's normal. We have the best player in the world and people talk about Cristiano Ronaldo. We are used to this and it makes us feel very proud that people speak about him so much," he said.

U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones, asked about how his side would deal with the Real Madrid man, noted the Portugal team had a lot of good players.

"The coach doesn't like it that we try to train to stop only him, or try to (think) we're only playing against Cristiano," he said.

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was pressed about the years he had spent at Manchester United with a young Ronaldo. Both players arrived at Old Trafford in 2003.

"We always knew he was special the moment he stepped in the door. He had skills that I had never seen before," he said.

"Could you have imagined that he would become World Player of the Year? Not at that time but he certainly had the tools. He's the single hardest working player I've ever been around on and off the field." (Additional reporting by Marine Hass in Manaus; editing by Justin palmer)

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