Cristiano Ronaldo’s international career may be coming to a close, as Portugal faces an uphill battle in their World Cup qualifying campaign. Portugal faces Turkey on Thursday in a World Cup playoff semi-final, with victory setting up a potential knockout game against European champions Italy.
It is a difficult task for Selecao and, although Ronaldo is their long-time leading scorer, and still popular with fans, there has been a long-running debate over whether the national team could be better off without him. .
“It’s almost like a political crisis, something that will require a conference to reach an agreement on Ronaldo’s retirement plan for the national team,” said Seris Futebol’s Sergio Pires.
“I find it confusing to say that a team does better without its best player, especially if you don’t have a great record of games played in these situations.”
Although Portugal may not have lost a game without him in the team since 2014, they have not won their 4-1 win over Croatia in the Nations League, which has been described as the best performance of coach Fernando Santos since taking over.
There are a few key players on the Portuguese side at the moment, such as Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix and Diogo Jota. So there is a feeling that when Ronaldo plays it deprives the other side players, as they see fit to always give him the ball rather than do what they want.
“It’s different when Cristiano plays,” another source close to the squad reported by the Daily Mail.
“Cristiano is an important player, but all the players want to play for him and they all know they have to pass the ball to him.
“We have a saying here that ‘the team is Ronaldo plus 10’. The team is free without him. The team is better without him.”
Manchester United face a similar dilemma, as the players struggle to reach the level set by the Portuguese star on and off the pitch.
The verdict: Will Cristiano Ronaldo start for Portugal?
The Portuguese coach, Santos, has no plans to remove his key player.
“I don’t think any team in the world can do better without their best player,” said Santos.
Then, it looks like Ronaldo will be on the field right away against Turkey and, most likely, Italy.