Cristiano Ronaldo mocked after benched as Portugal top Switzerland in World Cup | News, results, highlights, stats and rumours

Mike Hewitt – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Portugal is a better football team without Cristiano Ronaldo and the only person who doesn’t seem to know that is Ronaldo himself.

Hard or not, that was the general feeling after Portugal beat Switzerland 6-1 on Tuesday in the last 16 of the World Cup. Ronaldo did not start the match and was not brought on until the 72nd minute, while his replacement in the starting 11, Gonçalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick and added an assist.

FOX Soccer @FOX Soccer


Gonçalo Ramos who got the start over Ronaldo puts Portugal on top 🔥

And yet Ronaldo was the story. Without him, Portugal looked like a legitimate contender to win a World Cup title, brushing aside the dangerous Swiss with relative ease.

Unsurprisingly, football Twitter had a field day bashing Ronaldo after the match:

Luis Miguel Echegaray @lmechegaray

Jokes aside. This is what we have been talking about. It is so clear how much better #POR play without Ronaldo. It is not an opinion. Those are the facts. It is natural to think this. The attacking movement does not depend on the target, but rather on flow. It’s not hard to figure out.

Ronaldo’s role as a substitute was deserved on more than one level. It was obviously the right tactical move, given the result, but he also drew the ire of manager Fernando Santos after he seemed to say“He’s in a hurry to sub me” as he left the pitch unhappily as part of a 65th-minute change during Friday’s 2-1 loss to South Korea.

“On the field, I didn’t hear anything,” Santos told reporters this week about the incident. “I was too far, 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,” he continued. “Didn’t like it at all. From there it’s things you sort internally. It was sorted this way and now we’re thinking about the game tomorrow. Everyone’s focused on the game.”

And yet Ronaldo is undoubtedly a legend and the most important player in Portugal’s history, so keeping him out of the starting line-up for a knockout stage was no small decision. While it felt like the right move, it was still shocking.

However, that must be Santos’ approach going forward. Portugal were a buzzsaw without Ronaldo, a player who still has a goal in him but is little more than a poacher at this point in his career. He simply does not offer the dynamic movement or pressing that Ramos brings to the table, making Portugal far more static when he is on the pitch.

Time spares no man. It’s a lesson that can be difficult to face, especially for former elite athletes. But on Tuesday it was absolutely clear that the 37-year-old’s time as Portugal’s centerpiece is over.

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