Roberto Mancini, Italy’s head coach believes Portugal are stronger with Cristiano Ronaldo, but are still as strong in his absence.
The Juventus star will miss the Nations League opener against Italy, after opting to sit out this month’s international games.
While Portugal felt Ronaldo’s absence in a 1-1 friendly draw against Croatia, Mancini is not taking the Euro 2016 winners for granted.
“Portugal won the last European Cup. They are stronger when Ronaldo is playing,” Mancini said. “But even without Ronaldo the team is very good with lot of technical players.
“When Ronaldo will not play football anymore, I hope as far as possible for him, Portugal will try to do something different and this is a good chance for them.
“But they are still a great team, even without Ronaldo.”
Italy’s Nations League campaign opened with a difficult 1-1 draw at home to Poland in Group Three on Friday.