Portugal Manager Has 'No Regrets' About Benching Cristiano Ronaldo at World Cup

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 10, 2022

DOHA - Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarterfinal match between Morocco and Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. ANP KOEN VAN WEEL (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)
ANP via Getty Images

Portugal national team coach Fernando Santos stands by his decision to keep Cristiano Ronaldo out of the starting lineup despite the team's 1-0 loss to Morocco in the World Cup quarterfinal.

"I don't think so...no regrets," Santos said, per ESPN's Rob Dawson. "I think this was a team which played very well against Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player; he came in when we thought it was necessary, so no regrets."

Ronaldo was subbed into the match in the 51st minute, but the squad was unable to score the equalizer.

The veteran forward had started each of the team's three group-stage matches before being dropped from the starting lineup in the round-of-16 battle against Switzerland. Gonçalo Ramos took Ronaldo's place and scored three goals in that 6-1 win.

After Tuesday's match, Santos explained that it was a tactical decision to keep Ronaldo on the bench.

"They are different players," the coach told reporters. "It was game strategy."

There were ensuing reports Ronaldo planned to leave the team over the roster move, but the Portuguese Football Federation denied the report.

"Cristiano Ronaldo builds up a unique track record every day at the service of the national team and the country, which must be respected and which attests to the unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team," the statement said.

The dominant win over Switzerland caused Santos to use a similar lineup against Morocco with Ronaldo on the bench. The only change came in the midfield with RΓΊben Neves starting over William Carvalho.

The move backfired as Portugal struggled to create chances. The team controlled 73.3 percent of possession but only got three shots on goal during the match, via WhoScored.com.

Ronaldo tallied just 11 touches and took one shot in 39 minutes.