World Cup 2022: Portugal coach suggests Cristiano Ronaldo not guaranteed to starting place
The manager of Portugal, Fernando Santos, has emphasized that Cristiano Ronaldo won’t always start each game for his country at the 2022 World Cup.
This season, the 37-year-old has struggled to play at his peak level for Manchester United, scoring only three goals in 16 appearances in all competitions.
Santos said when questioned about Ronaldo and the upcoming World Cup that he was not required to start the former Real Madrid attacker and that he would have to compete for a position in the team just like any other player.
“Forced? This is not about forcing me. This is not a requirement. No one is forced to do anything here,” Santos said.
“The question could be, you could ask me, based on what Cristiano Ronaldo did [in recent weeks on the pitch] should he start? This is valid for Cristiano Ronaldo and all the players who are with the national team,”
“If the head coach is forced to put a player in the XI… there aren’t those things here,”
Portugal yesterday beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria 4-0 in an international friendly. Cristiano Ronaldo was not involved in the friendly due to illness.
Bruno Fernandes scored twice for the Portuguese in Lisbon, while Goncalo Ramos and Joao Mario also scored in the 4-0 win.
Below is Portugal’s squad for the tournament:
Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa (Porto), Jose Sa (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Rui Patricio (Roma)
Defenders: Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Antonio Silva (Benfica), Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfielders: Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Mario (Benfica), Matheus Nunes (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Vitinha (Paris Saint-Germain), William Carvalho (Real Betis), Otavio (Porto)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Rafael Leao (AC Milan), Ricardo Horta (Braga), Goncalo Ramos (Benfica), Andre Silva (RB Leipzig)