Football pundits were ablaze with thoughts and feelings after former Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo – wearing a substitute bib – missed most of Portugal’s World Cup match against Switzerland as Portugal won the quarter-finals 6-1. victory.
Adding fuel to the fire on Tuesday, Portugal manager Fernando Santos said Ronaldo’s role for the rest of the World Cup was something that “had to be explained”.
When asked directly if Ronaldo will play against Morocco in the quarter-final match on December 10, Santos answered enthusiastically: “Ronaldo will participate), all the players on the bench can be used, if they are not in the starting team. they can play later.
“It is important to look at the example of this player’s history, he is one of the best players in the world in the professional game, to be the captain – all we have to do is think about this team together,” he said.
But, in the past, Ronaldo cut a solitary figure as he left the pitch after the match against the Swiss where he was away from the limelight.
Chants of “Ronaldo! Ronaldo!” swept the 89,000-seat Lusail Stadium – the largest stadium at a World Cup – and then burst into laughter as fans realized their idol had not started the team.
Ronaldo came off the bench late in the match that saw Portugal through to the quarter-finals and saw his replacement, 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos, score his first hat-trick for the Portuguese national team. It was also the first hat-trick in the World Cup.
Ronaldo, 37, thanked Ramos at half-time at the end of the game, then went to the Portuguese fans’ section and briefly applauded them. But, while the rest of his team had time to appreciate, Ronaldo left his friends and walked alone in the street – perhaps wondering where his work comes from now.
He is currently without a club after leaving Manchester United during the World Cup, and does not appear to be guaranteed a place in the finals.
Ronaldo skipped the post-match interview with a big face, and answered one question: Was he happy?
“Yes, of course,” the power star laughed. “Portugal won.”
But it’s not all smiles inside the Portuguese camp.
As the editor of an Indian sports magazine asked: “Can the absence of one man make a team better?” The answer may not be what Cristiano Ronaldo fans want to hear. “
Can one man’s absence make a team better❓ The answer may not be what Cristiano Ronaldo fans want to hear.
✍️ According to Sengupta
Read 👉https://t.co/QnKXDCuziY#FIFAWorldCup Me #GoncaloRamos Me #PORSUI pic.twitter.com/YLULQbt3qv
– Sportsstar (@sportstarweb) December 7, 2022
Portugal manager Santos had been frustrated with Ronaldo the day before he was benched for the Switzerland game.
Santos said the decision was both smart and unwise, but admitted on Monday that he was disappointed by Ronaldo’s poor attitude after pulling him off late in the 2-1 defeat to South Korea in the group stage finale.
“I think the issues have been resolved. I said this in my last press conference and I repeat it again: This is something that is over, it has been resolved,” Santos said.
“I have a close relationship [with Ronaldo]. I’ve known him since he was 19 at Sporting,” he said.
“I think Ronaldo and I don’t misinterpret the personality and the person and the manager and the players, and what we have to do in the game,” he added.
“This is what we will do. I always feel that he is a very important player to have in the team. “
With Ronaldo out of the lineup on Tuesday, Santos introduced Ramos, a little-known player who has played internationally for the past three weeks.
But what a start it was: Ramos scored his fourth of the game in the 17th minute to give Portugal a 1-0 lead. He then added goals in the 51st and 67th minutes.
“Not even in my wildest dreams did I ever think of being in the starting lineup for the knockout phase,” Ramos said through a translator after being selected as a player.
The three goals have made Ramos one of the biggest prospects in world football even though many may not have known his name before Tuesday.
Representing Ronaldo has changed everything.
“Many people in the world had never heard of him until today,” Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes said of Ramos after the match.
Fernandes was also the only member of the Portugal squad who showed that Ronaldo was not happy about being on the bench. Fernandes also appeared prepared for the controversy surrounding Ronaldo and stood up to his defense as the Portuguese national team’s representative made several attempts to remove him from the media.
“We won the first two games with Cristiano in the first 11 months, and it could be that if Cristiano had played, he would have scored three goals and nobody would have said anything about Cristiano being on the bench,” Fernandes said.
“I don’t think people should talk about Cristiano and why he doesn’t play, because when Cristiano plays when the team wins, nobody talks about it,” he said.
“When Cristiano plays and the team loses, everyone talks.”
Fernandes called Ronaldo “the most famous player in the world. There is no one more famous than Cristiano in sports, not football, sports.”
When asked about Ramos’s debut, he addressed the question to Ronaldo.
“Do you think everyone likes to sit on the bench?” Fernando said. “I don’t think Cristiano will be happy. If the manager put me on the bench for the next game, I would be angry. “
Asked if Ronaldo had spoken to him before the game, Ramos said the talk of him being on the bench had not come up between the players.
“To be honest, no one in our team has spoken. “Cristiano as our captain, as he always does, helped us, gave us motivation, not only for me, but also for my teammates.”
Now with a crucial quarter-final game against Morocco on Saturday, Santos can choose to keep Ramos or bring back Ronaldo – the top scorer in the men’s world cup and one of the game’s most successful players.
Santos’ decision will be closely watched to see more of one star rise and fall.