Controversy continues in the situation surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo in the FIFA World Cup. A day after Ronaldo was benched by manager Fernando Santos for the side’s round-of-16 clash against Switzerland, it has been reported by Spanish news outlet Marca that Ronaldo missed a training session organized with the players who started on the bench in the knock-out clash. Instead, Ronaldo stayed in the gym where the starters did their work.
Ronaldo came as a substitute in the 73rd minute of the match, replacing Joao Felix. Portugal had registered a massive 6-1 victory against Switzerland in the knock-out match and sealed a quarterfinal clash against Morocco.
The Portuguese media was also surprised by Ronaldo’s absence in the training camp, as everyone had expected the star forward to go out with the players who had been on the bench in the round-of-16 clash.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos had thrown Ronaldo a lifeline, saying he’d continue to select players according to the strengths and weaknesses of the team’s opponent. But it’s unthinkable that Goncalo Ramos, the player who replaced Ronaldo in the XI, will lose his place now for the quarterfinal match against Morocco.
“I will use what I believe is the right strategy, as I have done my entire life,” Santos said, as bullish as ever. Tellingly, Santos praised his team for playing with “a lot of fluidity” and “as a collective.” That style is harder to forge when Ronaldo, whose mobility is just not what it was, is the sole striker.
Meanwhile, Ramos needed just 72 minutes in his first start at a World Cup — in fact, it was his first start in international football — to show he might be the future. His finishing, his link-up play and his work off the ball underlined why he is being spoken of as one of the next big things in Portuguese football. Ramos had scored a hat-trick and bagged an assist during his stay in the match.