Controversy continued around Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portugal camp when Marca reported that he did not train with the substitutes on Wednesday. He instead insisted on joining the starters for a gym session, according to a report quoted by the Daily Mail.
At the age of 37 and probably playing in his last World Cup, the former Manchester United forward is reportedly continuing to cause a stir in Qatar, failing to turn up for training with the Portuguese substitutes.
Even after the win on Tuesday against Switzerland, Ronaldo walked off the field alone at Lusail Stadium, leaving the rest of the Portugal team to celebrate getting through to the quarterfinals.
This has been a turbulent and bruising few weeks for Ronaldo.
When the tournament started, he broke a record — becoming the first male player to score at five different World Cups — and then he underwhelmed, failing to score in back-to-back games and responding to a substitution against South Korea by showing his displeasure and angering his coach.
Then came Tuesday night and the moment that might be looked back on as the start of the end of his glittering, record-breaking international career. Not only was he dropped from the starting lineup, but the 21-year-old player who replaced him — Goncalo Ramos — scored a remarkable hat trick.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos threw Ronaldo a lifeline, saying he’d continue to select players according to the strengths and weaknesses of the team’s opponent. But it’s unthinkable that Ramos will lose his place now for the quarterfinal match against Morocco.