The sulking Cristiano Ronaldo was nowhere to be found on the front pages of Portugal’s newspapers on Wednesday as the press toasted ‘the day the team gave itself to the youth’.
Led by 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos, a surprise inclusion of boss Fernando Santos, at the expense of Ronaldo, Portugal beat Switzerland 6-1 to book a FIFA World Cup quarter-final against Morocco.
Ramos, the hat-trick hero, dominated the front pages on Wednesday, while the team’s biggest star – Ronaldo – was ignored after being relegated to the bench.
The front pages of Portuguese newspapers toasted Goncalo Ramos’ brilliance on Wednesday
Portuguese media focuses on Ramos and Portugal’s new generation as they watch World Cup glory
Publicó claimed that turning to Ramos was ‘the day Portugal decided to give itself to the youth’
The front page of Record carried the headline ‘Ramos makes history’ after his first-ever hat-trick for Portugal in what was only his second start for his country.
A Bola hailed their new superstar, who has now scored more goals in Qatar than Ronaldo scored in three group matches, as a ‘wrecker’ after his destructive performance against the Swiss.
O Jogo toasted ‘a collective performance from another world’ with a team party front page image – again with top story Ronaldo overlooked.
Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) came on as a substitute in the 74th minute as Portugal led 5–1
The former Manchester United star walked straight past the media and film crews at the end
Publicó also nodded to the next generation of Portuguese stars by suggesting that Santos’ strong management in benching Ronaldo was ‘the day Portugal gave itself to the youth’.
Tuesday night’s match was the first time since Euro 2008 that Ronaldo, now 37, has not started a major tournament match.
Ronaldo finally appeared as a substitute in the 74th minute, before trudging off the field alone at the end as his team celebrated.
The question now is: what next for Ronaldo? Given such a dominant display, is his role in this World Cup bid now relegated to a spot on the bench?
“That’s still something to be defined,” Santos said when asked about Ronaldo’s role.
“I’m very close to him – I always have, I’ve known him since he was 19 years old.
Ronaldo (left) looked grumpy and frustrated as he did not start for Portugal in a major tournament for the first time since the 2008 European Championships
Santos said there were no issues between him or Ronaldo after dropping him against Switzerland
“This relationship just evolves, Ronaldo and I never interpret the human aspect of that of manager and player (in relation to) what we have to do during the game.
“I will always remember in my role that he is an important player to have on the team.”
However, the manager was optimistic when asked about the possibility of Ronaldo being reintroduced into the line-up to face Morocco in the quarter-finals.
“Ronaldo will definitely (be involved), all the players on the bench can be used, if they are not in the starting line-up, they can play later,” he said.
“It’s important to look at the example of this player’s history. He’s one of the best players in the world when it comes to playing professionally, as captain. All we have to do is think about this team collectively.”
While the Portuguese media quickly covered up Ronaldo’s sacking in favor of Guedes, 37-year-old Elma Aveiro’s sister took aim at Santos in fury.
She lashed out at the Portuguese manager, claiming he “humiliated” her brother, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, adding that she did not know why Santos left him out of his starting squad.
Ronaldo’s sister Elma Aveiro congratulated Portugal on the win before continuing her criticism of Santos’ decision to bench her 37-year-old brother in their first knockout match
“It’s a pity to humiliate a man who has given so much, but later I will see a lot more,” she said as part of a passionate defence, something she often does when Ronaldo falls from grace.
Ronaldo is currently a free agent after his Manchester United contract was torn up by mutual consent following his scathing interview with Piers Morgan in which he detailed the club’s lack of progress before adding that he had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag .
Gary Neville, a former teammate of Ronaldo at Manchester United, believes his behavior is now becoming a big problem and he needs to look at himself in the mirror to get his career back on track.
“When it happened at Man United, it was suggested that Erik Ten Hag was trying to stamp his authority, but the Portuguese manager has had an incredible relationship with him for a number of years,” Neville told ITV ahead of Portugal’s victory over Switzerland.
Gary Neville thinks Ronaldo needs to improve his attitude after falling out with multiple managers
“There are a lot of Cristiano Ronaldo fans who are not willing to tell him the truth and I think he should listen to the truth and it’s going to be a bit of a dirty ending.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes on tonight and scores the winner, but the irritability, the stomping, the sulking.
“His long-term legacy is set, it’s protected, he’s one of the best players of all time, but in the short-term he has to do much better, because is the Juventus manager wrong?” Is Manchester United wrong and is the Portuguese manager wrong now? Ten Hag didn’t want him in the team because he thought he was better without him, does the Portuguese coach feel that too?’