Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to shine at the World Cup, but Spain defender Capdevila is convinced his time will come.
Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuters
CAPE TOWN, South Africa
For all the superlative talent in its own squad, Spain will be chasing Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo all over the field when the Iberian neighbors meet with a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals at stake.
So far, Ronaldo has failed to shine at the World Cup, but Spain defender Capdevila is convinced his time will come.
"The best way to stop him is to be assisted by my teammates," said Capdevila, who will likely shadow the Portugal forward on Tuesday.
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Contain Ronaldo and the way to the quarterfinals could well be open.
"He is one of the best in the world. He is very nimble, very fast," Capdevila said. "He has a lot of freedom on the pitch. And I think he is going to move around all the attacking positions. So we have to be very alert to his movement."
If the 25-year-old Ronaldo reaches anything like the top of his game, it will take far more than one Spain player to trace him — and others to make sure he does not create holes and space for the other Portuguese players to use.
"We have to be very careful, not only with him, but also with other players coming from the back," said Capdevila, a Villarreal defender whose experience as a European Championship winner is invaluable even if he may be a step slower at 32.
So far, players like wing back Fabio Coentrao have used the space created by Ronaldo to pressure opponents, and it has worked as Portugal advanced from a tough group that included Brazil and Ivory Coast.
"We shouldn't be obsessed with Cristiano Ronaldo," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said. "The most important thing is to focus attention on Portugal as a team. They've shown defensively and offensively that they are a very competent squad."
Del Bosque declined to elaborate on Spain's plan for containing the dangerous Portugal No. 7, and Capdevila praised the entire opposing squad.
"The numbers speak for themselves," Capdevila said. "They have not conceded a single goal."
Still, Capdevila and his teammates are not overawed. After all, they are the reigning European champions and have players like Fernando Torres, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and David Villa on their team.
"We know what we are going to do, but we certainly are not going to tell you," Capdevila said on the eve of the match at Green Point Stadium. "We know how to harm them and overcome them."