Fernando Santos confirmed that he made an exception and had, yes, a private chat with Cristiano Ronaldo, a few hours before Portugal faced – and thrashed by 6 to 1 – Switzerland, last Tuesday (6), in the round of 16 final of the 2022 World Cup. He revealed that the star was “dissatisfied”, “did not accept it simply”, but that he respected the decision and later, during the game, was “an example of a captain”.
“The conversation happened, it would be bad if it hadn’t. It was more than normal. I don’t usually do that with all the players, it’s true, but it wasn’t ideal, for who he is, for what he represents for the Portuguese and for the selection, he arrives and sees on the tactical board in the locker room that his name was not on. My conversation with him needed to happen. It was perfectly normal and calm”, began by explaining the coach, on the eve of the duel with Morocco, this Saturday ( 10), for the quarterfinals.
“He said he wouldn’t be in the starting line-up, but that he would be important during the game, his entry could change the game. Were you satisfied? No, obviously. He’s always played, so dissatisfaction is normal. He didn’t accept it simply, but It was a normal conversation.”
In the national team since 2014, always with CR7 at his side, the coach also reinforced that there was no threat or request from the number 7 to leave the group in Qatar, as the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) had already communicated.
“Never, at any time, has Cristiano said he wanted to leave the national team. Never. And more: I think it’s time we stopped some things. It’s a bit fashionable just to point the finger at Cristiano. If there’s a better example, it’s the example that he gave in the game against the Swiss. He was the one who shouted from the bench, jumped in all the goals. In the end, he was the one who called his colleagues to applaud the fans. Leave Ronaldo alone, he doesn’t deserve this for everything he has done for Portuguese football”, he concluded.
With or without Ronaldo in the team
Of the main highlights of Portugal in the triumph against Switzerland, João Félix does not believe that the replacement of Cristiano Ronaldo by Gonçalo Ramos, who scored three goals in the round of 16, will make the team better or worse.
“Cristiano gives us things that we don’t have when he’s not there, we play differently, but the team always ends up doing well. It’s not because he’s there or not that the team will be better or worse”, he explained, admitting that who doesn’t feel the need to pass the ball to CR7 on the field.
“I don’t feel that, I don’t feel that obligation to pass the ball to Cristiano. We always try to do our best on the field, pass when it’s the best solution, but everyone has their own opinion and interprets the game the way they see it”, he concluded.