Portugal coach Fernando Santos has revealed that his decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo for the World Cup round of 16 with Switzerland was not a personal one.
News broke earlier on Tuesday that the former Man United striker would start from the bench after reacting poorly to being substituted in Selecao’s final group stage match against South Korea.
Santos made it clear earlier this week that he was not impressed with Ronaldo’s behavior during that loss, and was asked about his decision to replace the 37-year-old with the inexperienced Goncalo Ramos after qualifying for the quarter-finals.
“Cristiano and Ramos are two different players. There is no problem with the captain of the national team,” Santos said.
“It was strategic. The players are different. I started too [Diogo] Dalot, Raphael [Guerreiro]However [Joao] Cancelo is a great player. That’s what I thought in the match against Switzerland, in another match that might be different.”
Santos was pushed for a more detailed explanation of his decision, to which he replied: “Didn’t I already answer that question? There is no problem between Fernando Santos and the captain of the national team. We have been friends for many years and other things do not affect us. Coaches make decisions. I have already made it clear, done.” He completely solved this part and set an example for the great commander.
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In Ronaldo’s absence, Ramos scored a memorable hat-trick for Portugal, becoming the youngest player since Pelé to score three goals in the knockout stages of a World Cup.
The Silicao’s attacking play was a joy to behold. Ronaldo went into the last 20 minutes and found the net, but his goal was ruled out for offside.