·27 September 2022
·27 September 2022
Cristiano Ronaldo came under heavy fire ahead of Portugal’s UEFA Nations League clash with Spain on Tuesday night.
On the back of a frustrating few weeks where Ronaldo‘s attempts to leave Manchester United were rebuffed and he found himself stapled to Erik ten Hag’s bench, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has even been slammed in his own nation.
That’s because Ronaldo was heavily criticised in the Portuguese press on the back of the 4-0 win over the Czech Republic where he drew a blank and conceded a penalty.
According to The Sun, newspaper A Bola went as far as dedicating their entire back page to the mission of dropping the Selecao’s captain as they ran the headline: “Less Ronaldo, more Portugal.”
The report is said to have explained that despite Ronaldo’s mass of caps and goals for his country that he should be benched due to a lack of playing time for United across the 2022/23 season.
It was also suggested that Bruno Fernandes should step up into the leadership role during games and a poll ran by the publication showed that 57% of fans didn’t want Ronaldo to start against Spain.
So, that’s quite the set of volatile circumstances under which Ronaldo entered a crucial game against Portugal’s Iberian neighbours.
And the pressure was cranked up even higher when, despite the pleas for Ronaldo not to start the game, Fernando Santos backed his star man from the off at the Estádio Municipal de Braga.
However, despite such a show of faith presenting the perfect opportunity for Ronaldo to raise two fingers to the doubters, it certainly wasn’t a vintage performance from the Selecao skipper.
On a crushing night for the Portuguese that saw them miss out on a place in the Nations League finals, Ronaldo was left to watch on as Alvaro Morata’s late goal snatched a 1-0 win for Spain.
As such, Ronaldo was seen visibly angry and frustrated upon the full-time whistle, throwing his captain’s armband in a similar style to his reaction to Portugal’s exit from Euro 2020 last summer.
But the problems ran far beyond the result because Ronaldo’s individual output was hardly one that had fans on social media thinking that the tough stance of the Portuguese media had been misguided.
Rather, an out-of-sorts display from Ronaldo only seemed to give credence to the idea that – as astonishing as it might sound – starting him from the word go might not be the best course of action for the Euro 2016 winners.
However, don’t just take our word for it because such a head-turning decision needs its evidence and in this case, it doesn’t come much clearer than in the form of Ronaldo’s individual highlights.
Documenting his teething problems, missed chances and general lack of sharpness on a tough day at the office, Ronaldo’s key moments from the 1-0 defeat really do give you a lot to mull over.
Ah… it’s easy to see why some fans are starting to grow impatient.
Look, it was by no means a disasterclass with SofaScore reporting a mixed batch of statistics including two shots on target, 82% passing accuracy, eight concessions of possession and two out of two long balls completed.
Nevertheless, the disappointing results from the eye test match up to the fact that Ronaldo’s match rating of 6.7/10 was the joint-third-lowest amongst the Portuguese and Spanish starters.
So while it certainly wasn’t the worst performance of what has proven to be a really tricky 2022 for Ronaldo, there’s no denying that it hasn’t done his hopes of silencing the haters much good.
But if anyone can turn it around on the big stage when it matters most, then you can rest assured that Ronaldo’s your time. Qatar looms large now.
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