In the recent few weeks, Cristiano Ronaldo has been in the news more for his exploits off the field than on it.
The 37-year-old forward was benched by Portugal coach Fernando Santos during their thumping 6-1 win over Switzerland. Ronaldo not starting the game has not gone well with his girlfriend Georgina Rodríguez as she made a scathing attack on Portugal’s manager in her Instagram post.
“Congratulations Portugal. While the 11 players sang the anthem, all eyes were on you. What a shame not to have been able to enjoy the best player in the world for 90 minutes,” wrote the companion of the Portuguese star.
“The fans did not stop asking for you and shouting your name . May God and your dear friend Fernando continue hand in hand and make us vibrate one more night.”
By the time Portugal had taken a 4-1 lead, the crowd at Lusail Stadium was loudly chanting “Ronaldo! Ronaldo!” for the star to enter the game. The cheers then turned to boos directed at Santos for ignoring the pleas.
Ronaldo, wearing a yellow substitute bib in the dugout, was expressionless as the crowd called for him. When he was finally sent onto the field in the 72nd, the crowd erupted. Pepe wrapped the captain’s armband on Ronaldo’s bicep before Ronaldo jogged onto the field.
The 37-year-old had also posted a cryptic post prasing Portugal’s ‘talent and depth.’
“Amazing day for Portugal, with a historic result in the biggest contest in world soccer. Luxury exhibition by a team full of talent and youth. Congratulations to our national team. The dream is alive! To the very end! Come on, Portugal,” Ronaldo wrote on his Instagram.
Interestingly before the match had posted an inspirational message, which reads, “Today is for Portugal! For the Portuguese! For us and our! Today is for all the dreams we carry in each of us! Let;s go with everything!”
Meanwhile, Portugal coach Fernando Santos has insisted that his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo is still intact after dropping the 37-year-old from the starting line-up against Switzerland in their round-of-16 clash.
“I have a very close relationship,” said Santos.
“I know 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 in the team.”
Ronaldo opened the tournament with a goal against Ghana to become the first player to score in five different World Cups. But he was ineffective in Portugal’s final two games of group play and has been shadowed by distractions since arriving in Qatar.