Bruno Fernandes has backed Cristiano Ronaldo after his old Manchester United teammate was left out of Portugal’s key World Cup match against Switzerland, claiming that no one would be glad to miss such a crucial encounter.
Prior to Tuesday night’s last-16 match against Switzerland, Ronaldo had started all three of Portugal’s matches at the tournament in Qatar, but he was benched by Fernando Santos.
The 37-year-replacement, old’s Goncalo Ramos, scored a stunning hat-trick in the Selecao’s 6-1 victory, which might mean Ronaldo is relegated to a supporting role in the quarter-finals.
Santos’ decision to fire Ronaldo ended a bad couple of months for the former Manchester United star, who opted to end his second tenure at Old Trafford a fortnight ago after a public spat with Erik ten Hag.
Despite a statement performance, Ronaldo dominated the narrative around Portugal throughout and after the match. But Fernandes has come out in support of his international teammate, despite reports that their relationship had soured during an ugly exchange before the World Cup.
“Do you believe anyone enjoys sitting on the bench?” When asked about Ronaldo’s reaction after the game, Fernandes answered. “Cristiano would not be pleased, in my opinion. I’d be furious if the manager benched me in the next game.”
He continued: “We won the first two games with Cristiano in the first 11, and it’s possible that if Cristiano played, he might score three goals and no one would notice.
“Cristiano is doing his job, he’s doing his bit, and he’s pleased with the outcome because everyone’s goal is to get as far as possible. I don’t think people should be talking about Cristiano and why he isn’t playing when no one talks about it when Cristiano plays and the team wins.
“Everyone talks when Cristiano plays and the team loses. [He is] the world’s most famous player. In sports, no one is more famous than Cristiano, not in football, but in sports.”
After Ramos’ incredible treble, it’s difficult to see Ronaldo forcing his way back into Portugal’s starting lineup for their quarter-final encounter against Morocco – but Santos vowed that the veteran would be involved in the next round.
“Ronaldo will undoubtedly [play],” he stated. “All of the players on the bench are available for use. They can play later if they are not in the starting lineup. It is critical to consider this player’s background; he is one of the best players in the world at playing professionally, and as captain, all we have to do is consider this team collectively.”