Ronaldo Refuses To Train With Portugal’s Reserves
Ahead of the quarter final clash against the Atlas Lions of Morocco, Cristiano Ronaldo did not train with Portugal’s substitutes yesterday and instead insisted on joining the starters for a gym session, according to reports in Spain.
The 37-year-old was axed by Portugal boss Fernando Santos during his side’s impressive 6-1 win against Switzerland in the last-16 of the World Cup.
His replacement, Goncalo Ramos, netted a stunning hat-trick to fire Portugal into the World Cup quarter-finals, validating Santos’ decision to drop the country’s superstar.
Santos admitted last week that he was furious at Ronaldo for acting out after getting substituted during Portugal’s group stage victory against South Korea.
According to Marca, the former Manchester United forward is continuing to cause a stir in Qatar, failing to turn up for training with the Portuguese substitutes.
The Spanish outlet claim that Ronaldo instead went for a low-intensity gym session with the starters, despite playing less than 20 minutes against Switzerland as a substitute.
Portugal’s official Instagram account later uploaded a series of pictures of the squad training at their base in Qatar. Within it the substitutes, such as Rafael Leao, Ruben Neves and Joao Mario, can be seen doing ball work. Ronaldo is later pictured on the grass but in trainers and doing resistance-band work separately. Antonio Silva – who was an unused substitute – was another pictured doing gym work too.
It is understood the Portugal camp were ‘surprised’ not to see Ronaldo among the substitutes on the field, admitting that he did not feel any discomfort and was in perfect condition to train.
Santos’ decision to drop the icon ended Ronaldo’s streak of 31 matches started at major tournaments.
The Portuguese forward had not started an international match from the bench in a major competition since Euro 2008, which ironically came against the Swiss.
Ronaldo’s girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez joined in his fury after watching 74 minutes of football without the striker on the pitch against Switzerland.
After the last-16 clash on Tuesday, Rodriguez took to social media to vent her frustration.
She said: ‘What a shame we didn’t get to enjoy the best player in the world for the 90 minutes. The fans haven’t stopped claiming you and screaming your name.’
Portugal take on Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday, after the African nation dramatically knocked out Spain on penalties in the last 16.
Following his side’s blistering performance against the Swiss, Santos could well keep his disgruntled superstar out of the starting line-up for the remainder of the tournament.
Ronaldo dramatically left Manchester United last month in the wake of his explosive bombshell interview with Piers Morgan, which heavily criticised the club’s organisation, facilities and manager Erik ten Hag.
The forward’s former Red Devils team-mate Gary Neville lay out some harsh truths to Ronaldo ahead of Portugal’s last 16 tie.
He told ITV before kick-off: ‘Well what happened at United, the suggestion was, it was because (Erik) Ten Hag was trying to make a move on him, he’s trying to establish his authority.
‘This is a manager [Santos] who’s got an unbelievable relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo for eight years.
‘And there are a lot of fans of Cristiano Ronaldo who aren’t willing to tell him the truth. I think he does need to listen to the truth, that it’s becoming a little bit of a scruffy end.
‘The petulance, the stomping around, the sulking it’s got to stop because it doesn’t reflect well on him at all.’