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Cristiano Ronaldo expected to play in Portugal's World Cup opener

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Cristiano Ronaldo is back in training and expected to play in the World Cup, but what kind of form will he be in?

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Any fears that Cristiano Ronaldo may miss the start of the World Cup are dissipating. The Portugal star returned to training on Monday and, according to ESPN, has been declared fit to start in the team's World Cup opener next week.

Ronaldo has been battled a thigh injury for more than a month now. He played 90 minutes in just two of Real Madrid's last 10 matches and had been limited in training since joining Portugal. Not long after reporting to Portugal training camp, the team revealed he was suffering from knee tendinosis in addition to a thigh strain, increasing speculation that he would not be fit for the World Cup.

To this point, Ronaldo hasn't played in any of Portugal pre-World Cup friendlies, but that could change tonight against Ireland. He is is contention to start and even if he doesn't, appears likely to come off the bench.

Ronaldo was always likely to play in the World Cup. He was able to battle through the injury to play in the Champions League final, but the real question was how fit he would be and what kind of form he would be in. He struggled for Real Madrid in the final, playing one of his worst matches, and if he plays like that for Portugal, everyone in their group will have things much easier.

To this point, we have no idea what kind of form Ronaldo is in. We will probably get an idea tonight and it will be worth watching. Nobody in the World Cup is as important to his team as Ronaldo is to Portugal.

The United States plays Portugal in their second group stage match on June 22 so there's quite a bit of time before the Americans face him, but it's close enough that it's worth keeping an eye on Ronaldo's form and fitness every chance we get. That, apparently, will start tonight.