Cristiano Ronaldo is still pivotal to Portugal side battling Father Time

The Portuguese believes the Liverpool forward can break his and Lionel Messi's grip on the annual prize following his form this season

The Portuguese believes the Liverpool forward can break his and Lionel Messi's grip on the annual prize following his form this season

Cristiano Ronaldo believes Liverpool sensation Mohamed Salah is a genuine contender to break his and Lionel Messi's decade-long dominance of the Ballon d'Or.

Salah, 25, netted 44 goals in all competitions under Jurgen Klopp this season.

The last season was a somewhat successful one for the Portuguese forward, as he helped Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League title - a feat that seemed impossible previously.

"Many people talk about the Cristiano Ronaldo-Messi battle but there are other players who have chances to enter the race (for Ballon d'Or)".

Salah finished the season with 43 goals in all competitions after the Egypt global netted 10 times to help Liverpool FC reach the Champions League showpiece.

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"Spain are very strong and a serious candidate to win the World Cup, but we will have the same seriousness as with Morocco and Iran".

"I hope his injury in the final in Kiev doesn't keep him out", Ronaldo added.

The former winners are indeed favourites to top their group, despite coming up against the reigning European champions; however, may have to take on the deadly attacking outfit without star defender Pique, who, according to Marca, was forced out of training on Monday with a knee injury.

Ronaldo's game has changed again in the last two years, since he scored three and assisted three at Euro 2016, and this will surely be his final World Cup.

Spain and Portugal will meet on Friday in the city of Sochi, where they will be the star of Group B of the Russian tournament, which kicks off on Thursday. We are becoming more independent of great players'.

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