January 30, 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo ‘takes more off the table than he puts on’ claims FOX Sports’ David Mosse, suggesting Portugal is BETTER without the star… while Alexi Lalas claims it was a ‘defining moment’ for Fernando Santos

Cristiano Ronaldo played no part in Portugal’s dominant 6-1 win over Switzerland and it may have been a signal that the star’s powers are waning.

FOX Sports analysts David Mosse and Alexi Lalas debated this after Portugal manager Fernando Santos chose to leave the striker out of his starting eleven.

In his place, Santos went with Benfica youngster Goncalo Ramos – who scored a hat-trick on his first start at this World Cup.

Finally, Ronaldo was substituted in the 74th minute and scored one shot during the match.

Cristiano Ronaldo brooded on the bench as he watched his Portuguese teammates riot over Switzerland - with his replacement Goncalo Ramos getting a hat-trick in the 6-1 win

Cristiano Ronaldo brooded on the bench as he watched his Portuguese teammates riot over Switzerland – with his replacement Goncalo Ramos getting a hat-trick in the 6-1 win

Goncalo Ramos' coming out party saw him score three goals in his first ever World Cup start

Goncalo Ramos’ coming out party saw him score three goals in his first ever World Cup start

Ramos' treble after replacing Ronaldo was the first hat-trick in the 2022 World Cup final

Ramos’ treble after replacing Ronaldo was the first hat-trick in the 2022 World Cup final

After the match, Mosse suggested that the Portuguese national team was better off without Ronaldo, as was Manchester United.

‘Fernando Santos has come to the same conclusion as Erik ten Hag. I think it’s hard to argue at the moment that Ronaldo is now taking more off the table at the highest level than he’s bringing in,” Mosse said in an episode of the “State of the Union” podcast.

“The performance that Portugal put in tonight, this was the realization of what I had hoped for in recent years from this team and all the talent that comes together in that way. And there’s no escaping the fact that he wasn’t on the field when that happened.

So I don’t think he will start the next game either. I think they’re headed this way. Ramos was incredible, [Rafael] Leao comes in and gets a goal, Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, you know, I’ve been rattling names for years.

Ramos needed just 17 minutes to make his mark in his first start by pulling in a fierce blow

Ramos needed just 17 minutes to make his mark in his first start by pulling in a fierce blow

Ronaldo sat on the bench at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004

Ronaldo sat on the bench at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004

“I’m enamored with their talent and I started to think a little bit recently that maybe Ronaldo was the guy who got in the way – and you take him off the pitch and suddenly they’re winning 6-1.”

Lalas, the former United States defender, agreed with Mosse’s assessment, saying, “This was almost the perfect time for him. [Santos] to do this, and he had to get it right – the dynamics within that team – he had to keep a finger on the pulse.

And when I say it was the perfect time, what [Santos] had – for maybe the first time – the support of the public, in the sense that there were many fans who did not want Cristiano Ronaldo to start and believed that this team is better.

And that balance of power had shifted. We know Cristiano with all the strength he has had over the years – and rightly so, because he was the man and he drove this team.

Fernando Santos will have to make more difficult decisions against Morocco in the quarterfinals

Fernando Santos will have to make more difficult decisions against Morocco in the quarterfinals

Former USMNT defenseman Alexi Lalas claimed it was the 'perfect time' to drop the star

Former USMNT defenseman Alexi Lalas claimed it was the ‘perfect time’ to drop the star

“But Fernando Santos really had to walk a fine line there to figure out how to deal with this. And oh, to be a fly on that wall when he told Cristiano that this wasn’t going to happen and what that response was or wasn’t.

“In the end he looked good, the optics were great, he patted people on the back… but you know deep down – like any other player – he’s not happy… moment for Portugal in their attempt to get a to win World Cup.’

Naturally, the 37-year-old’s absence from the starting line-up made headlines ahead of the last-16 clash, but Santos has since claimed he was left out for tactical reasons.

“This is something that is finished and resolved,” he said when questioned about his high-profile phone call. “It is also important to look at the example of this player’s history, he is one of the best players in the world.”

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