Granit Xhaka has revealed his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Switzerland’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Portugal on 10 October.

Xhaka believes that while Ronaldo is not Portugal, their national side does rely on him heavily.

“I admire him. He is a unique player,” said the midfielder. With him, Portugal is a completely different team. Each player has 5% more self-confidence. 

“He is not Portugal, but Portugal is Ronaldo.”

He added, “The meeting in Lisbon will show how much progress we have actually made. We have to prepare for this game as if we were playing for a title.”

Xhaka’s Switzerland face Portugal on Tuesday 10 October in their 2018 World Cup qualifying match. Last time they faced off, the Swiss won 2-0 and a large part of this was probably because Ronaldo was sidelined with a torn collateral ligament.

Without their captain, who’s netted 78 goals in 145 caps, as Xhaka says, the quality of the Portuguese side decreases. Not just because they’ve not got his ability on the pitch beside them but because their confidence drops.

Switzerland won’t be so lucky this time as the Real Madrid superstar is fit.

However, before facing Ronaldo, Xhaka’s country has to face Hungary.

Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka controls the ball during the WC 2018 qualifying football match Switzerland vs Latvia on March 25, 2017 at the Stade de Genève in Geneva. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Hungary sit third in Group B, a massive 11 points behind Portugal who are just three behind Switzerland. Therefore, while the Swiss have a good chance of qualifying, they can’t afford to take their foot off the gas just yet.

Xhaka is set to make his 56th appearance for his national team.

The 25-year-old hasn’t been in the best form for Arsenal this season so hopefully he can dig deep and show an improvement for his country. When his passing is on point, as it was last term, he’s a key player for any team.