The Seleccao succumbed to a late Eden Ben Basat goal after a mistake from goalkeeper Rui Patricio, meaning that a draw for Russia in Azerbaijan on Tuesday will be enough to see them clinch top spot in Group F after they beat Luxembourg 4-0. While Portugal can still mathematically snatch the automatic spot away from Fabio Capello’s men, Ronaldo conceded his side are almost certain to be facing another play-off for a major tournament, having also navigated the process to reach World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. “It’s not a drama to be in the play-offs,” the 28-year-old told A Bola. “It’s become normal, it’s not a surprise because that’s what has happened to us in recent years. “[Automatic qualification] is mathematically possible but not up to us. We must be content to play the play-off. “Hopefully, we’ll now get a bit of luck and not get a complicated team. The only team I wouldn’t like to face is France.” Portugal spurned a number of chances before Patricio’s kick landed straight at the feet of Ben Basat for an easy equaliser, with head coach Paulo Bento refusing to place sole blame on his goalkeeper for the result. “Mistakes are made collectively,” Bento said after the match. “In the second half we started just as well but after 10 minutes we had more difficulties to move the ball, we were more inaccurate and ended up penalised for a situation that can happen. “We tried to react but more with the heart, using a more direct game that we are not prepared for. “We ended up being penalised for a mistake.” FC Barcelona – Real Madrid CF Real Madrid CF – Juventus
FranÃ§ois Hollande’s Missteps put France on Levant sidelines
The French public rewarded Hollande, perceived as weak in foreign policy, with a fleeting surge in his otherwise usually dismal approval ratings. These ratings have been low in large part due to French economic woes coupled with a public perception that he has been vacillating in domestic leadership. When Mr Hollande cast himself in the role of western war leader for the second time in a year, his popularity shot up again, though not with the French public, but with the US Zionist lobby and the neocons in Congress. For his pains, Hollande found his country described as America’s “oldest ally” by the US secretary of state, this after Britain’s parliament had already rejected military strikes on Syria. Suddenly his ability to project French military power–this time in Syria–depended on the outcome of a vote in the American Congress, and despite his bold words, President Holland found himself uncomfortably constrained, with his advisers, and his country, divided over what to do next. When John Kerrey told Francois Hollande that France was America’s” oldest friend” he was referring to the period of the early American Republic–a time when France did back America, in 1776, against the British colonial power. But the nation overstretched itself militarily and economically, in the process triggering the French Revolution of 1789 that ended its own monarchy. As Gustave Flaubert, reputed to be France’s leading novelist of the second half of the nineteenth century, wrote, “irony takes nothing away from pathos’. In today’s terms, President Hollande would do well to pay more attention to history. Syria of course presented a vastly more complex and difficult challenge than Mali. As a member of Hollande’s own party acknowledged, “people became very aware that Syria is not Mali. Suddenly there were some very difficult questions being discussed.