Ronaldo’s strong mentality inspirational: Granada defender Duarte

BELGRADE, Sept. 8, 2019 (Xinhua) — Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (L) vies with Serbia’s Luka Milivojevic (R) during the UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifying Round Group B match between Serbia and Portugal in Belgrade, Serbia on Sept. 7, 2019. (Photo by Predrag Milosavljevic/Xinhua/IANS)

Kolkata, Nov 8 (IANS) Portuguese central defender Domingos Duarte, who plays for Granada in the Spanish LaLiga, wants to imbibe Cristiano Ronaldo’s “strong mentality” as he strives to break into the national team on the back of helping his club get off to a good start this season.

“He (Ronaldo) has the mentality like no one. To maintain yourself at the top for so many years like Cristiano does, it’s very difficult,” Duarte told IANS in a telephonic interview from Spain.

“Cristiano has talent but his main quality is his mentality. He is still willing to learn. That’s what I see from outside. I haven’t met him but I would like to,” said Duarte of the Portuguese star who plays for Italian giants Juventus and is regarded as one of the best footballers of this generation.

Duarte is yet to break into the Portugal senior team but has represented his country at the age group levels.

LaLiga newcomers Granada shocked Spanish football by topping the table after 10 games and now find themselves in sixth position after 12 games with 20 points, two adrift of leaders FC Barcelona whom they beat earlier this season.

Duarte, 24, has been a vital part of Granada’s success in the opening weeks and months of the season. When Granada went to the top of the table after the 10th round of the season, Duarte had featured in every single possible minute and had even scored a couple of goals, as well as making several vital defensive interventions.

“We need to keep working the same way in training. Just hope the results keep coming as they have been,” said Duarte who had previously played in Spanish football in LaLiga SmartBank, the second tier, when he was on loan from Sporting Clube de Portugal at Deportivo La Coruña in the 2018/19 season before he was transferred to Granada on a permanent deal in June.

Asked if they have pressure of expectation now going into the second half of the season, he said: “We don’t have pressure. We don’t care what people say. The most important thing is what our coach says and we focus on our training and prepare game by game.”

Granada had stunned Barcelona in September by a 2-0 margin. Ramon Azeez and Álvaro Vadillo had netted in either half. Asked what was the secret behind them being able to stop Barcelona and Lionel Messi, Duarte explained: “We know Messi is a great player, but we need to stop him. Maybe put one or two players near him all the time.

“We know the kind of players they have. If you give them too much time with the ball, they will hurt your defence. Barcelona you know that they will have more possession than you so you need to be strong and make sure they don’t get deep inside your half too much.”

Granada take on Valencia on Saturday.

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