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Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal squad 'suspected' Ronaldo would be dropped at 2022 World Cup, admits Bernardo Silva

3:52 PM MYT 03/01/2023
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 2022
Bernardo Silva says Cristiano Ronaldo’s benching at the 2022 World Cup came as little surprise to those inside the Portugal squad.
  • All-time great benched in knockout rounds
  • Big selection calls made by Santos
  • Superstar forward now has a new club

WHAT HAPPENED? The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was dropped for a last-16 showdown with Switzerland in Qatar, before remaining among the substitutes for a shock quarter-final defeat to Morocco. Ronaldo had previously spent time out of favour at Manchester United, before seeing his contract terminated at Old Trafford, and Silva says international team-mates of the legendary frontman “suspected” that big selection calls would be made in the Middle East.

WHAT THEY SAID: Manchester City playmaker Silva has told Record of a decision involving Ronaldo that “was not strange”: “Between us we talked and asked 'could it be, would it not be?', because the players talk. But we only found out about the team in the locker room when we arrived at the stadium, two hours before the game. There are 26 players, too many for the coach to choose for each specific game. It never shocks me that he decides to go with one or the other. Right or wrong in the opinion of each one, the coach has the right to make the decisions he makes.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ronaldo remains the all-time leading goalscorer in the history of men’s international football, with 118 efforts recorded across 196 appearances for Portugal, but – with Fernando Santos having stepped down as coach – it remains to be seen how many more outings will be taken in at that level.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Ronaldo has not announced his international retirement, with Euro 2024 next on the agenda, and has taken on a new challenge at club level after agreeing a lucrative contract with Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Nassr.