Despite their ranking of world number four on Fifa charts, Portugal do not start as outright favourites but as dark horses for the World Cup in Russia, starting June 14.

The burden of taking the reigning European champions as deep as possible in the tournament will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, for whom the upcoming campaign might turn out to be the last World Cup.

Ronaldo, 33, is not getting younger anymore but still has found ways to keep the goal-scoring machine in him running. After a slow start to the last season, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner scored 43 goals in 42 matches across all competitions to lead Real Madrid to their third straight Champions League title.

Fernando Santos has assembled a squad with a good mix of experience and youth capable of going deeper into the tournament in Russia.

They are favourites to progress to Round of 16 along with former champions Spain from Group B, which also has Iran and Morocco.

IBTimes, India has compiled a list of five Portuguese players who will be key to the team's chances in Russia. Check them out below.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo
Can Cristiano Ronaldo end his World Cup career on a high?Octavio Passos/Getty Images

The Real Madrid forward is arguably one of the greatest players of all time and he would want to help his country have a good run in what could possibly be his last World Cup.

Ronaldo's experience of handling pressure successfully at the highest stage in club football should come in handy for Portugal towards the business end of the tournament.

The talisman had been in fine goal-scoring form in the qualifying campaign (15 from just nine games) and has looked threatening since the start of the year as well.

Goncalo Guedes

Goncalo Guedes
Goncalo Guedes had a strong season with Valencia.BENJAMIN CREMEL/AFP/Getty Images

The 21-year-old is likely to be Ronaldo's strike partner in Russia. Guedes has quickly made a name for himself at Valencia where he proved his worth after being loaned out from French giants, Paris Saint-Germain.

Guedes raw pace and ability to cut inside and create chances for his teammates will be crucial as Ronaldo can be lethal with good support.


Cristiano Ronaldo Pepe Portugal
File photo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe from Euro 2016.Reuters

The veteran will be the leader of Portugal's defence in Russia. The 35-year-old is no longer a Real Madrid player but is still impressive with his Turkish side, Besiktas.

With only eight games away from 100 appearances for the national senior side, Pepe will be hoping to end his World Cup career on a high.

Bernardo Silva

Bernardo Silva, Manchester United transfer news, Jose Mourinho, Jorge Mendes ,Premier League transfer news, Bernardo Silva to Manchester United
Bernardo Silva.Reuters

Silva is heading to Russia on the back of two consistent seasons for Monaco in 2016/17 and then at Premier League winners, Manchester City.

A good campaign in Russia will only help improve the credentials of the attacking midfielder, who had turned heads last summer when he grabbed a £43m to Pep Guardiola's City.

Rui Patricio

Thomas Muller Germany Rui Patricio Portugal
Rui Patricio.Reuters

The veteran goalkeeper was one of the key members of Portugal Euro 2016-winning side as he made some of the most important saves under pressure in the semi-final and final.

The 30-year-old Sporting Lisbon star, with 68 international caps, needs to be in fine form between the sticks if Portugal are to go deeper in Russia.