Benched Cristiano Ronaldo was met with huge cheers as his face appeared on screen during anthems

Benched Cristiano Ronaldo received huge cheers as his face appeared on screen during the national anthems ahead of Portugal’s last 16 clash with Switzerland

Cristiano Ronaldo was greeted by loud cheers as his face was shown on the big screen ahead of Portugal’s last 16 clash with Switzerland.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos made the big decision to drop Ronaldo from his starting XI for Tuesday night’s game, opting instead for a seemingly more mobile frontline to combat Switzerland’s midfield energy.

Despite being dropped, the rather sparse crowd inside Lusail Stadium cheered for the forward as his face flashed up on the screen.

The crowd cheered when Cristiano Ronaldo’s face appeared on the screen during the national anthems

Ronaldo himself, who last month saw his Manchester United contract torn up after a remarkable interview with Piers Morgan, did not seem unfazed by his place among the substitutes, appearing to break into a smile as the camera passed him.

His drop to the bench comes after his latest outburst when he was substituted, with Ronaldo reported to have muttered “you couldn’t give me quick enough” when he was withdrawn against South Korea last week before being benched on a stubborn manner.

Santos, previously unconditionally loyal to the player, admitted it was not something he liked to see.

Cameras lined up to catch a rare glimpse of the Portuguese starting a big game on the bench

Cameras lined up to catch a rare glimpse of the Portuguese starting a big game on the bench

The Portuguese superstar was dropped to the bench by Fernando Santos for the round of 16

The Portuguese superstar was dropped to the bench by Fernando Santos for the round of 16

“Let’s split this answer in two,” Santos said at his press briefing on Monday.

– Immediately after the match I spoke in the flash interview, and then went to the press conference, and there I said something that I will repeat here: on the pitch I heard nothing.

“I was too far [away]and this is why I only saw him arguing with a South Korean player, and nothing else.

“Have I already seen the footage? Yes. I didn’t like it. Didn’t like it at all.

“From there, you sort things out internally. It was arranged in this way, and now we are thinking about the game tomorrow. Everyone is focused on the game.

Fernando Santos took the bold decision to drop the Portuguese from his starting XI for the match

Fernando Santos took the bold decision to drop the Portuguese from his starting XI for the match

Readers of Portuguese newspaper A Bola overwhelmingly voted no when asked if Ronaldo should start against Switzerland last week.

“He had the opportunity to be a leader in this selection, but he is an obstacle. He crumbles the image he has built of himself. Lose him and lose the selection. This is no longer CR7, it’s CR37,” one reader commented.

Another added: ‘What’s the reason, why have you been a newbie? He wasn’t a starter at the club, he’s not fit, he says he wants to fight for titles but every seven days he’s sick,” wrote one.

“He doesn’t feel like training, whatever the excuse.”

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