'People in Portugal need to appreciate that Ronaldo is the best player in the world' – Joao Pereira

Portugal Under-21 defender Joao Pereira believes that Cristiano Ronaldo is under-appreciated in his homeland, and rejected claims that the Real Madrid star fails to perform for the Seleccao.

Paulo Bento’s side have started their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign in poor form, having dropped points to both Russia and Northern Ireland.

However, the young centre-back believes that too much is expected of the former Manchester United man when he represents his country.

“I think what Ronaldo and Messi are doing at the moment is incredible. At the end of every season, people keep saying ‘[Lionel] Messi won’t be able to do that again’ or ‘Ronaldo won’t be able to score more goals again’, but every season they improve. It is incredible,” Pereira said in a phone interview.

“I think people [in Portugal] need to appreciate that we have the best player in the world at the moment, along with Messi.”

“It is natural that Ronaldo normally plays better for Real Madrid. He is there all month with the same players learning routines. He then meets up with Portugal for only one week and it is natural he doesn’t always play the same [as at club level].”

Pereira also believes theĀ Seleccao deserve more credit after their impressive showing at Euro 2012, which saw them reach the semi-final stage before being eliminated.

“If you look at Portugal’s team now, we have a lot of quality – Ronaldo, Nani, [Joao] Moutinho and young players like Nelson [Oliveira].

“We were the only team in 2012 to cause Spain real problems and we had a good tournament. You look at the final: Italy lost 4-0 and they came nowhere close [to winning].

“We need to stop talking about the ‘Golden Generation’ of Luis Figo and Rui Costa all the time.”

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