World Cup 2022: Ronaldo turned from ‘celebration’ to superstar no one wants

  • Phil McNulty
  • BBC Football Correspondent, Doha, Qatar

photo source, Getty Images

picture explanation,

It’s been 14 years since 2008 that Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t started in a major tournament.

Cristiano Ronaldo (37, independent) has now become a superstar nobody wants as he was excluded from the starting list for the round of 16 against Switzerland held at Lusail Stadium in Qatar on the 6th (local time) following the declaration of separation from Manchester United.

On the day of the round of 16 match, the Portugal national team responded to the courage of coach Fernando Santos by not sending the national soccer icon to the starting lineup by winning 6-1 with perfect offense.

Portugal faces Morocco in the quarterfinals on the 10th (local time).

Santos’ decision to remove Ronaldo from the starting list after openly criticizing him for his gestures on the field as he was substituted in the second half during the final group stage match against South Korea proved correct.

In addition, Gonzalo Hamus (21, SL Benfica), who replaced Ronaldo, scored a wonderful hat-trick, and the Portuguese team truly hit the jackpot.

It must have been a bittersweet time for Ronaldo, who received an unexpected exclusion notice following a bad end to his Manchester United FC career amid public criticism.

It is the first time in 14 years since 2008 that Ronaldo did not start in a major tournament, and with this, the streak of consecutive appearances that lasted for 31 matches ended.

It was certainly a courageous starting lineup decision not only for this World Cup but also for Santos, who has led the Portuguese national team for the past eight years.

Although Santos, the coach who gave Portugal the UEFA European Football Championship championship in 2016, must have known the risks involved in the huge tectonic shift of ‘excluding Ronaldo’.

If Portugal, which participated without Ronaldo, failed to advance to the quarterfinals, the direction of the arrow of criticism would not have been Ronaldo.

But instead of focusing on Ronaldo’s overwhelming presence on game day, Santos watched as usual carefully as the Portuguese players moved more energetically and fluidly and threatened down the flanks.

The midfield line, centered on Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandez, moved smoothly, and new striker Hamus, who made his first World Cup start, was replaced by Ronaldo and easily overcame the burden.

In addition, Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), who usually has good skills, was quiet before, but rather showed more freedom than other fellow players in this game.

Veteran defender Pepe (39, FC Porto) showed that age does not affect Santos’ decision.

Hamus scored the first goal from the side of the post, then scored again from close to the opposition’s goal and later overcame Swiss goalkeeper Jan Sommer for a hat-trick.

In addition, he helped Rafael Geheiro (28, Borussia Dortmund) score in the second half, scoring three goals and one assist in his World Cup debut.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo played 514 minutes and scored no goals in the 2022 World Cup prior to this game, while Hamus played 67 minutes and scored 3 goals.

And throughout the game, the camera continued to focus on Ronaldo’s face as he sat on the bench on the international stage after ending his Manchester United career, focusing on every change in his expression.

Hundreds of cameras following Ronaldo right after the national anthem seemed to almost testify to what had happened, as the Portuguese team proved their abilities with a sweeping victory over disappointing Switzerland despite his absence.

Meanwhile, as Hamus made the score 5-1 and the Portugal team was cruising, loud shouts of “Ronaldo” began to be heard from the stands at the Lusail Stadium. The voices shouting Ronaldo’s trademark ‘heavy rain’ ceremony continued.

This seems to have been largely driven by local spectators who paid money to come to the stadium to see Ronaldo in person.

Or it may have been the cry of Swiss football fans who want Santos to put Ronaldo instead of Hamus, who is giving them a torturous time.

With 16 minutes left, manager Santos substituted Ronaldo for Felix.

Ronaldo entered the stadium like a faded talisman, but it was a little awkward because it felt more like he was showing his face for the fans rather than making a meaningful contribution to an important World Cup match. I even felt embarrassed.

In fact, whenever Ronaldo received the ball, there was anticipation in the audience to see Ronaldo’s magic. Then again the magic came close as Ronaldo fired in, but the offside flag was raised and booing erupted.

Even the brief interest and expectations poured into Ronaldo disappeared as another young striker, Rafael Leang (AC Milan), shook the goal post in extra time in the second half and finished the epic 6-1 victory.

photo source, Getty Images

picture explanation,

Portuguese football fans cheered loudly throughout the match, chanting Ronaldo’s name several times.

When the final whistle blew, Ronaldo gave applause to the crowd and then went to the locker room first, giving congratulations and a moment of glory to his teammates who should be congratulated for showing the best performance to the extent of being threatening in this World Cup.

Of course, Ronaldo could make a decisive contribution to Portugal in the remaining World Cup matches. No matter what, it is because they are invincible and are looking for a new team.

However, it seems difficult to start in the match against Morocco.

After being rudely and blatantly criticizing the management problems of his team, Ronaldo, who was kicked out of the door, was pushed out of the Portugal national team, which he considered even more irreplaceable.

Ronaldo was once the future itself. However, as new stars such as Hamus and Reang appear, he is likely to remain a star of the past.

Then, what awaits this star who is now dying in his club and country. First of all, it is clear that he will start on the bench in the quarterfinal against Morocco.

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