Could Cristiano Ronaldo be Portugal’s super substitute for the rest of the World Cup?


Cristiano Ronaldo has found himself in uncharted territory this season – but no matter where he is in the stadium, the cameras follow.

After it was announced he would start Portugal’s World Cup Round of 16 tie against Switzerland from the bench, many photographers swarmed the squad’s substitutes ahead of kick-off.

Such was the almost comical number of cameras with their lenses trained on Ronaldo, it made most of his Portuguese reserve mates laugh.

The substitutes’ bench hasn’t been a place the Portuguese superstar has spent much time since his career debut in 2002, with his goalscoring abilities too crucial for teams to knock him off the pitch or leave him out of training departure.

However, this season has been different.

Now 37, Ronaldo’s legs apparently don’t quite have the same zipper they once did and although he remains one of football’s great goalscoring threats, his growing lack of mobility means he no longer matches the high-octane pressure style of football. teams like to play in the modern game.

This led to him being quickly benched by new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, who prefers an energetic and pressing style of football, which Ronaldo has made it known he is unhappy with.

When Ten Hag asked Ronaldo off the bench earlier this season against Tottenham, the ex-Real Madrid player threw a strop and ran back down the tunnel, refusing to enter the game.

This led to Ronaldo being dropped from the matchday squad for United’s next match. Afterwards, the Portuguese star addressed his behavior in an Instagram post, although he refrained from apologizing.

“As I have always done throughout my career, I try to live and play with respect for my colleagues, my opponents and my coaches,” he wrote.

Then came the revealing interview with Piers Morgan, in which Ronaldo called out almost everyone at Manchester United – including the cooks – which ultimately led to the end of his second stint at the club as the two sides decided to stand together. to separate.

Rumors have been circulating since leaving Manchester United that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is set to sign with a Saudi club, which he has denied.

Then on Tuesday, Ronaldo was dropped from the starting line-up for Portugal at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2008.

It’s still unclear exactly why Ronaldo was dropped to the bench, but his recent performances have fallen far short of the high standards he’s set for himself throughout his career.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos said in his pre-match press conference that he was unhappy with his captain’s reaction after being substituted in the previous game against Korea DPRK. South.

Cristiano Ronaldo supported his Portuguese teammates from the bench.

Considering Ronaldo’s reaction to being benched for United and then being taken off against Korea, it’s fair to assume that people might have expected a similar reaction on Tuesday.

In Ronaldo’s defence, however, that was not the case.

He was seen cheering on his teammates for much of the game and joined in the celebrations when they scored, including those of Gonçalo Ramos, who replaced Ronaldo in the starting line-up and scored the first hat-trick of this World Cup.

But in Ronaldo’s roughly 20-minute cameo in Portugal’s 6-1 demolition against Switzerland, he again showed what he is capable of in front of goal.

With his only real chance of the match, Ronaldo buried his shot past Yann Sommer but was denied a goal by the linesman’s offside flag.

His star quality also remained with the Lusail stadium filled with chants of ‘Ronaldo, Ronaldo’ as he took to the pitch for arguably the biggest roar of the night – all seven goals of the match included.

In his absence, Portugal produced by far their best performance yet in Qatar and the hammering of a good Swiss side helped elevate Santos’ side into serious contenders to win the World Cup.

It’s unclear whether Ronaldo will return to the starting line-up for Portugal’s quarter-final against Morocco, but even if he doesn’t, Santos can call on one of the biggest goalscorers in the game. sports history is not a bad option to have.


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