Cristiano Ronaldo among 3 Portugal players rested against Mexico

Gualter Fatia

Portugal head into their penultimate pre-World Cup prep match without three presumed starters.

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Portugal have two friendlies left to play before they head to Brazil for the World Cup, with the second-to-last coming on Friday against Mexico. And once again, they'll be missing some key contributors, leaving everyone to wonder whether they'll be fully fit and gelled when their big match against Germany rolls around.

The Portuguese FA have announced that Cristiano Ronaldo will not play against Mexico, as expected, but there are a couple of other absences as well. Ronaldo's place couldn't be more secure and Pepe is a lock to start when he's fit, but Raul Meireles' absence might get both the player and manager Paulo Bento thinking twice about the Portugal midfield going forward.

Meireles is important as the energetic box-to-box player between holder Miguel Veloso and playmaker Joao Moutinho, but he has another player hot on his heels. William Carvalho is coming off an excellent season in Europe and was one of Portugal's better players in their draw against Greece. He's not a like for like replacement for Meireles -- he's more of a defensive midfielder -- but he's energetic enough and a solid enough passer to start ahead of the Fenerbahce man.

As for Ronaldo, he has tendinosis, which you might not be terribly familiar with. Portugal don't know when he'll be fit, but they're obviously gunning for June 16, and they'll have to strap him to a bed to keep him from playing against Germany as long as he has two legs.

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