Bruno Fernandes discusses Cristiano Ronaldo being benched by Portugal

Bruno Fernandes has spoken about Cristiano Ronaldo
Bruno Fernandes has spoken about Cristiano Ronaldo / John Todd/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes has hinted Cristiano Ronaldo was unhappy to be dropped from the starting XI for Tuesday night’s World Cup last 16 thrashing of Switzerland but insists that kind of reaction would be normal for any player.

With his club career up in the air following an acrimonious departure from Manchester United in November, Ronaldo has struggled to find form at this World Cup.

As he chase’s Portugal’s all-time World Cup goal record held by the late Eusebio since 1966, Ronaldo’s only strike so far came from the penalty spot in the opening game against Ghana.

He has played fewer and fewer minutes with each passing Portugal and was left out of the lineup by coach Fernando Santos for the Switzerland game. In his absence, 21-year-old replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick on his first ever international start, potentially making it tough for Santos to now return to Ronaldo as Portugal progress through the rounds.

“Do you think anyone likes to be on the bench? I don’t think Cristiano would be happy,” Fernandes told reporters after the last 16 game.

“If the manager puts me on the bench in the next game, I would be angry.”

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In his fifth World Cup tournament, Ronaldo has faced criticism for his apparent determination to equal and surpass Eusebio’s World Cup tally of nine – all scored in the 1966 finals – even doggedly claiming a goal scored by Fernandes until it was conclusively proven he didn’t touch the ball.

“Cristiano is doing his job, he’s doing his part, he’s happy with the result because the goal for everyone is to go as far as possible,” Fernandes went on to say.

In the quarter-finals on Friday, Portugal will face a Morocco side that finished top of Group F ahead of Croatia and Belgium and has already eliminated Spain in the knockout stages.