The Greatest of all Time

Chapter 631 Gearing Up for the Match against Portugal

Chapter 631 Gearing Up for the Match against Portugal

Five days after their first match, the Ivorian team arrived at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to face off against the mighty Portuguese side in their second World Cup game. The atmosphere was electrifying as they stepped off the bus into a sea of noisy fans and flashing cameras.

Zachary was the last to disembark, and the excitement was almost too much for him to bear. The crowd was a riot of color, with journalists and fans vying for his attention. The fans were shouting and cheering, desperate to catch a fleeting glimpse of the star footballers, while the journalists were jostling for position, their cameras flashing like fireworks on New Year’s Eve. It was yet another moment that would stay with Zachary forever.

Zachary’s experience at Juventus allowed him to remain steadfast and unfazed by the excitement. The crowd’s roar was still deafening as he walked towards the stadium’s gates, but Zachary kept his cool and even waved back at some of the fans. He then followed his teammates down the tunnel and into the dressing room, where they quickly changed into their warm-up gear.

With the adrenaline pumping through his veins, Zachary couldn’t wait to hit the pitch and start his pre-game warm-up dynamic routine. As he stepped onto the field, waves of excitement and anticipation for the game ahead welled up like ocean tides inside him. Nothing could break his focus now.

With his coaches guiding him, he went through an intense routine that included jogging, high knees, leg lunges, and some ball work to get a feel of the ball. As he stretched and flexed his muscles, he felt the adrenaline coursing through his veins, fueling his passion for the game. With each passing second, his focus grew more potent, and he knew that nothing could stand in his way. With his team by his side, he felt prepared to dominate the field and come out on top as the victor!

After fifteen minutes of grueling exercises, he finally had a chance to glance at the other side of the pitch. That’s when he saw them. The famous Portuguese players had arrived and were already in the midst of their warm-up. Zachary’s eyes lit up as he recognized some of the biggest names in football – Cristiano Ronaldo, William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva, Pepe, and Bruno Fernandes, among other stars. They were all there, going through their individual sessions, while others were huddled up for a game of rondos.

As Zachary watched them, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe. He had played against some of these players in the Champions during his tenure at Juventus and realized how formidable a force they were on the football field. Now that he was about to face them in the World Cup, the experience would be even more thrilling.

It was then that something incredible happened. Ronaldo and Pepe noticed Zachary watching them and nodded at him, acknowledging his presence. It was a small gesture, but it meant a lot to Zachary. It was a sign that even the greatest players in the world could no longer ignore his talent and determination.


Over on the opposite end of the field, the Portuguese team was wrapping up their warm-up routine. Cristiano Ronaldo displayed impressive footwork by juggling the ball effortlessly while Pepe, Jo?o Moutinho, and William Carvalho were stretching on the sidelines, preparing their bodies for the upcoming match.

As Pepe glanced at Zachary, he expressed his concern to Ronaldo, “That guy is a real threat. He was the driving force behind Juventus’ back-to-back Champions League titles. He even came close to snatching the Ballon d’Or from you last year! And now that he’s playing for the Ivory Coast, our challenge has become even more daunting.”

Ronaldo nodded, his juggling never slowing down. “Zachary is a great player, especially in the midfield. He’s got some serious creative skills, but he’s almost a lone ranger in the Ivory Coast side, without any backup from other world-class midfielders. If we stick to our game plan and isolate him, he won’t be able to make his mark on the game. But Pepe, we need to be extra cautious and avoid giving away silly setpieces in our defensive third. That guy can be a real menace when taking setpieces.”

“Got it,” Pepe responded. The group then continued their warm-up drills while chatting about the imminent match.


The warm-up time flew by, and before they knew it, the Ivorian players had returned to their dressing room. As they prepared for the game, tension filled the room. They hastily donned their sports attire, double-checking that everything was in place.

Zachary was tucked away in a corner, his orange number 10 jersey a perfect fit. His heart thumped wildly with anticipation as he slipped on his matching stockings and brand-new green Nike Mercurial Roc boots. The tension in the air remained palpable, but Zachary couldn’t help but feel invigorated by his teammates’ energy and boundless fighting spirit. They were all determined to give it their all in the upcoming challenge. Suddenly, Herve Renard, the coach of the Ivorian National Football team, took center stage and clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. With his trademark white shirt and black trousers, he exuded a commanding presence as he began his pre-match pep talk, his stern expression adding to his authority.

The coach’s voice boomed through the dressing room as he began his speech. “Gentlemen, today is the day we’ve been preparing for over the past four days. Our only goal is to come out on top against Portugal, and we’re more than ready to make it happen.”

“We’ve worked tirelessly over the past few days, going through numerous drills to prepare for this game, and I’m confident that we’re fully prepared. All we need to do is go out there and play our hearts out. We must play as a cohesive unit and leave no room for error. We cannot afford to make any mistakes that could cost us the game.”

“We must recognize that this is a challenging group and every game and result counts. Our win against Iran gave us three points, but that’s not enough to guarantee our place in the knock-out stages. That’s why we must do everything possible to get a favorable outcome from this game. We must give it our all to defeat Portugal and secure six points, paving our way to the round of sixteen. Together, we can make it happen. Are you with me, guys?”

“Yes, coach,” the players replied almost in perfect unison, their voices reverberating through the dressing room.

“I like the energy,” exclaimed the coach, beaming with pride. “Let me quickly summarize our game plan for the final time ahead of our match against Portugal. We’ll be sticking to our 4-2-3-1 formation for most of the game, playing with caution in defense while maintaining a high line. We’ll also focus on keeping possession of the ball as much as possible, using our wide spaces to launch our attacks. And when we’re not in possession, everyone except Gervinho, our center-forward, must track back and defend as a team. Is everything clear?”

“Yes, coach,” the players replied.

The coach then singled out Zachary and said, “Zachary, we are counting on you today. You’ll need to play as an attacking number 10 while taking on some defensive duties to strengthen our defensive midfield. You’ll also need to coordinate our central midfield play when we’re on the attack. So, you must be vigilant and give your best performance. When you have the ball, you can take on the defenders or pass the ball to your teammates. It’s up to you to make the right decision in midfield. Can we rely on you for this?”

“Yes, coach,” replied Zachary, his voice brimming with confidence. “I will try my best.”

The coach nodded and then discussed other vital aspects of the game plan. He spoke in a measured and confident tone, re-emphasizing the importance of a strong defense and well-coordinated offense. He went into great detail, reminding each player of their roles in the upcoming game based on their strengths and the Portuguese side’s weaknesses. He singled out Serge Aurier and the center-backs, cautioning them to be extra vigilant while marking Jo?o Mário, Bernardo Silva, and Cristiano Ronaldo, three of the most creative attacking players on the opposing team’s starting line-up. The coach’s speech was punctuated by passionate and intense moments as he outlined various strategies and potential scenarios that could arise during the game. He again emphasized the importance of teamwork and communication, urging each player to support and encourage their teammates while on the field. Throughout his speech, the coach checked his watch periodically, ensuring that his address remained within the allotted time frame. He concluded his speech by reminding the players of their shared goals and the importance of giving their all on the field. Upon receiving the coach’s final words of encouragement and reminder to maintain focus and discipline throughout the game, Zachary’s countenance brightened. The coach’s words had an almost immediate impact on him, rekindling his determination and boosting his confidence. He felt an intense urge to demonstrate his team’s abilities against Portugal and secure another three points.

His eagerness to contribute to his team’s victory was palpable, and he was determined to leave no stone unturned in his quest to help his team qualify for the World Cup knock-out stages.

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