Conte: Portugal are not just Ronaldo

The Real Madrid ace has been rested for Tuesday’s friendly with the Azzurri, but the former Juventus boss thinks the Seleccao have other great players

Italy coach Antonio Conte has dismissed the suggestion that Portugal are solely reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Tuesday’s friendly in Geneva.

Ronaldo underlined his worth to the Seleccao by netting a hat-trick in last week’s 3-2 Euro 2016 qualification clash with Armenia, with the Real Madrid superstar scoring with every shot he had on target.

The three-time Ballon d’Or winner will miss the meeting with Italy in Geneva, though, having been allowed to go on holiday early after a long season for club and country.

However, Conte has denied that Ronaldo’s absence makes Italy’s task significantly easier.

“All teams must manage themselves well and all players reach the end of the season tired,” the Azzurri coach told reporters on Monday.

“But, also, no team consists of a single player even if that player is Ronaldo, who is a phenomenon.

“Portugal have other big players – quality players – so it will be an interesting test for us.”

Conte also insisted that he will be treating the game like a competitive encounter, claiming there are no such things as friendlies as far as he is concerned.

“I hate the word defeat,” the former Juventus boss added. “I hate it – and my players know that very well.

“I see no difference to an official match. I want to win and I want my players to feel the same way.”

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