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Santos explains why he dropped Ronaldo for Portugal

"Christiano Ronaldo" by Ludovic_P is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
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The Portugal captain was demoted to the bench for Tuesday’s 6-1 World Cup over Switzerland.

Portugal manager Fernando Santos has said he dropped Cristiano Ronaldo for tactical reasons in the last-16 World Cup tie against Switzerland.

Ronaldo’s replacement, Goncalo Ramos, stole the show in his stead, scoring a sublime hat-trick to lead Portugal to a 6-1 World Cup win. Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, and substitute Rafael Leao were also on target.

Ronaldo, who last failed to start for Portugal in a major tournament in 2008, came off the bench in the final 17 minutes of the game.

“Andre [Silva] who is a great player who plays more advanced, Cristiano is more fixed, he stays in a more determined area towards the box,” Santos said of his decision to bench the Portugal captain in Lusail.

“Goncalo has different characteristics. He is very dynamic and the observations I made and that is what he ended up showing us.

“It is nothing new, he already came on in two matches, but I would say as Andre also played in a previous match, I have three players I fully trust. For each match, I will use whatever player I see [fit] for my strategy. All the players on the bench can be used [against Morocco [even] if they are not in the starting XI.”

Will Ronaldo return to the line-up against Morocco?

Next up for Portugal is a quarter-final tie with Morocco, who beat Spain on penalties in the last 16. Whether Ronaldo starts is something Santos refuses to divulge though.

“That is still something which has to be defined,” the coach said of Ronaldo’s ongoing role in the team.

“I have a very close relationship with him, I always have. I’ve known him since he was 19 at Sporting and then he started to develop in the national squad when I arrived in 2014.

“Ronaldo and I never misinterpret the human and personal aspect with that of manager and player. I will always consider that he is a very important player to have on the team.

“This [disciplinary matter] is something that is finished and solved, it is also important to look at the example of this player’s history. He is one of the best players in the world and therefore all we have to do is come [together] collectively.”

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