Portuguese press turn on Cristiano Ronaldo as Man Utd star’s power finally fades

The Portuguese press have called for Cristiano Ronaldo to be dropped from the starting XI for Tuesday night’s game against Spain.

Portugal will reach the finals of the Nations League if they avoid defeat to Spain in Braga. If Spain win, they will qualify instead. The Netherlands, Croatia and Italy have already booked their spot at next summer’s finals – the third edition of the four-team tournament.

Ronaldo, 37, is Portugal’s skipper but has struggled for form this season. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has played a supporting role at Manchester United this season – starting just once in the Premier League – and has scored only one goal in all competitions.

Ronaldo did provide an assist in Portugal’s 4-0 against Czech Republic in Prague on Saturday night but failed to find the net. Some sections of the Portuguese press are calling for Ronaldo to be dropped, with Liverpool forward Diogo Jota waiting in the wings.

Jota, 25, came off the bench to score in Saturday night’s win and has established himself as one of the best forwards in the Premier League, hitting 21 goals in all competitions last season. A hamstring injury means he’s started just once for Liverpool this term.

A Bola, one of Portugal’s biggest sport publications, ran the headline “menos Ronaldo, mais Portugal” on Monday, which translates into “less Ronaldo, more Portugal”.

Cristiano Ronaldo could be dropped for Portugal's game against Spain on Tuesday night

Cristiano Ronaldo could be dropped for Portugal’s game against Spain on Tuesday night
Getty Images)

Do you think Cristiano Ronaldo is still one of the world’s best footballers? Let us know in the comments below!

A Bola also claimed Ronaldo ‘is losing influence in the selection’, his “game volume reduced” and “can start on the bench against Spain” – suggesting Ronaldo could be dropped by manager Fernando Santos.

Perhaps just as telling was A Bola’s claim that Bruno Fernandes has “gained prominence” in Portugal’s team. Despite being compatriots, many fans and critics believe Fernandes, 28, and Ronaldo can’t play together in United’s starting XI due to their talismanic personas.

Fernandes was unplayable during his first 18 months at United, scoring 40 goals in all competitions. Yet he struggled to make an impression alongside Ronaldo last season, seeing his goal tally drop to 10 – with only five of those coming when the veteran played.

Speaking ahead of this month’s internationals, Fernandes rubbished claims that he can’t play alongside Ronaldo. “Most of my assists last season were for him, so I don’t think [it is fair],” he told The Athletic. “I just had a poor season in terms of my own numbers.

“I don’t think it is about Cristiano… it is because I didn’t do the best in myself in some moments to get goals or assists. In the national team I play with him and when I score, he is on the pitch.

“To play with Cristiano as a No 10 is actually really good because players respect him so much that it creates more space, as the opponents are afraid of him taking the ball and scoring. They want to mark him and they create an overload where he is to mark him.”

Top Man Utd stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.