Friday’s World Cup draw at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow just happened to fall on a national holiday in Portugal — Dec. 1 marks when the Portuguese celebrate the restoration of independence from Spain in 1640.
Ronaldo of course plays his club football for Real Madrid, so is bound to face several of his teammates on June 15, including central defender and Spain captain Sergio Ramos.
However, Portugal, who won Euro 2016, and 2010 World Cup titlist Spain will be fully expected to advance from Group B, which also includes two teams specializing in clean sheets: Morocco and Iran.
Morocco didn’t concede in World Cup qualifying while Iran set a record for keeping 12 consecutive clean sheets in the qualifying — under its Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz, formerly manager at Real Madrid.
‘Major sporting festival’
Elsewhere debutantes Iceland were given a fairy-tale opener against Lionel Messi’s Argentina in Group D, with defending champion Germany landing in a relatively tough group, paired with Mexico, Sweden and South Korea in Group F.