Two teams looking to improve before the 2014 World Cup will face off in an international friendly as Portugal host Cameroon.
Cameroon qualified through the African federation with an aggregate win over Tunisia in the final round. Next summer, they will be competing in Group A with hosts Brazil as well as Mexico and Croatia.
Portugal had a harder time qualifying and needed to win a play-off against Sweden to earn their ticket to Brazil. However, things just get even tougher with Germany, the United States and Ghana also in Group G.
While there is a long way to go before things kick off at the World Cup, each squad has a lot of room for improvement if they want to contend over the summer. This exhibition will give both sides a chance to see what they can do at this stage of the year.
When: Wednesday, March 5
Where: Estadio Dr. Magalhaes Pessoa, Leiria, Portugal
Time (U.S.): 3:45 p.m. ET
Time (U.K.): 8:45 p.m. GMT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Odds (via Oddschecker): Portugal (4-11), Cameroon (10-1), Draw (4-1)
Top Storyline: Can Portugal Give Cristiano Ronaldo Some Help?
Few will argue against Cristiano Ronaldo being among the top players in the world. The 2013 Ballon d'Or winner has accomplished plenty on both an individual and team level, but he wants to add a World Cup title to his list of accolades.
He explained this goal in January, via Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC:
It would be a dream come true. I do not want to downplay the titles I have won up until now, like this honour or the Ballon d’Or, but it would be a dream come true. We know that it is very hard and that we have to keep our feet on the ground. We will try to do our best and take it one step at a time.
As good as Ronaldo has been, though, he cannot do everything by himself. While he did have a hat-trick in Portugal's winning match over Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden, he needs help from those around him.
In this match, that means more contributions from Hugo Almeida, Raul Meireles and possibly Rafa. Michael Cox of ESPN FC discusses the pros and cons of Almeida as a striker:
In fairness, Almeida is more useful for Portugal than many insist. He is the classic 'big No. 9' who thrives at international level and focuses on holding up the ball, winning aerial duels and, most crucially, creating space for Ronaldo. He tends to tire quickly, however, and there's little doubt Portugal will need an alternative option up front.
The defense is solid, but the attack needs a lot of help, especially with Nani still out with a hamstring injury.
Prediction: Portugal 2, Cameroon 0
Cameroon have some serious talent all over the pitch, starting with Samuel Eto'o up front. While he is getting up there in age, he has proven this season with Chelsea that he can still get the ball into the net.
Veteran Mohamadou Idrissou is also attempting to prove he can contribute at 33 years old, while Alex Song is just entering his prime.
However, the squad will have limited opportunities in the final third and will struggle to turn any of those chances into goals. An experienced defense that includes Real Madrid stars Pepe and Fabio Coentrao will make sure Cameroon stay out of the net.
On the other side, Ronaldo will be able to create opportunities for himself no matter where he lines up on the pitch. If he can get even a little bit of help offensively, Portugal will ensure that this match becomes an easy victory.
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