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Ex Portugal Coach Would Drop Cristiano Ronaldo Again as He Defends His Tactics During 2022 World Cup
- Fernando Santos has explained why he dropped Cristiano Ronaldo at the 2022 World Cup
- The former Portugal boss believes his decision was made in the best interests of the team
- Santos also insisted he would drop Ronaldo to the bench again if given a second chance to
Ex-Portugal manager, Fernando Santos has retrospectively characterised his choice to bench Cristiano Ronaldo during the 2022 FIFA World Cup as a 'strategic move'.
He took the unexpected step of dropping the veteran for their round-of-16 clash against Switzerland following the star player's relatively subdued performance, having scored only once in three group-stage matches.
The 69-year-old manager's tactical adjustment seemed to pay dividends when Ronaldo's replacement in the line-up, Goncalo Ramos notched a hat-trick, propelling the Selecao to the quarter-finals with an impressive 6-1 victory.
However, the strategic manoeuvre failed to yield a similar outcome in the subsequent quarter-final tie against Morocco, culminating in Portugal's exit with a 1-0 defeat despite Ronaldo's appearance as a substitute, per ESPN.
Nearly a year later, Santos has revisited his choice, shedding light on the reasoning behind his actions and emphasising how he would make the same decision to bench the star player again if given another opportunity.
"Today, I [would make] the same decision! It was a strategic decision. First of all, I have to think about the team. I thought strategically was the best decision," he told A Bola, per The Guardian.
The former Portugal coach said the matter of dropping Ronaldo to the bench was discussed between himself and the technical team, and reiterated it was not a decision made lightly even considering personal relationship and other external factors.
"But I had a bigger strategic decision, and I thought it was better. It doesn't mean that Cristiano wouldn't enter, not least because he would enter and could play at first in the next game. But the game went so well, so well with Switzerland that in the following game, it made no sense to change," he concluded.
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Ronaldo's reaction to being dropped
Sports Brief also reported on Santos describing Ronaldo's reaction to the benching ahead of the 2022 World Cup round-of-16 clash against Switzerland.
Santos, who was relieved of his managerial duties shortly after the tournament, disclosed that Ronaldo responded to the decision with visible frustration.