Sometimes, in big tournaments, the biggest compliment a player can receive is a place on the bench of his team.
For example, when Bruno Fernandez did not participate in Portugal's loss to South Korea in the last round of the group stage, it was because his coach Fernando Santos was keeping a close eye on him.
Wrap it in cotton wool so it doesn't get damaged.
Bruno carried a yellow card, the game was largely for the record, and the important thing is that the Manchester United player will be fit and available for the round of 16 tonight (Tuesday) against Switzerland.
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A year and a bit ago, Portugal's bench was the most insulting place for Bruno.
In the last round of the Euro 2020 group stage against France, Santos again left the midfielder out, but then he did so for professional reasons.
In the first two games of that tournament - against Germany and Hungary - Fernandez was weak and contributed nothing, until his coach had no choice.
The statistics showed zero goals, zero assists and very few touches of the ball, and the commentators cut and showed no mercy.
"He's not functioning, and his body language is very bad," analyzed former player Roy Keane.
"It looks like it has no energy in it," added Ian Wright.
In the round of 16 against Belgium, Bruno was again left on the bench, and Portugal was eliminated with a 1:0 loss.
He ended that tournament when he failed to leave any mark.
Here in Qatar, Portugal's signature is Cristiano Ronaldo.
There is almost no similar attraction for the local fans in this World Cup.
Every game of the team is a CR7 carnival, with loud chants of "SIUUU" and an exaggerated imitation of his famous goal celebration.
A star, no longer on the field, photo: Reuters
In general, Cristiano is the main conversation here when it concerns the Santos team - a contributor or not?
In the lineup or not?
Has he finished his part or is he capable of more?
- Everyone wants to know and have an opinion.
Bruno, on the other hand, is consensus.
Maybe not an attraction like his teammate, but according to everyone he is the best and most important player of the Portugal team.
He opened the tournament with two assists in a 2:3 win over Ghana, and then continued with a double in a 2:0 win over Uruguay.
He receives huge compliments, and his position is more stable than ever - the complete opposite of what was the case in the last European Championship.
The interesting thing is that Fernandez's rise coincides with Ronaldo's decline.
Although the big star is still the biggest star here, but Bruno is the most important.
Not only did he speak at the first press conference and cool the commotion surrounding the Ronaldo and Manchester United events, he also did not make an issue of the goal that was doubtless his friend's.
Bruno talks off the pitch, and about him too.
In fact, he continues the improvement in the team in Qatar and has already scored 5 goals and 3 assists in the last five appearances.
From a player who did not find his place in the national uniform and was not counted in the true moments of the European Championship, he has become one who cannot be without him.
Even the assessment that he cannot get along with Ronaldo by his side (as has often happened at Manchester United) seems unfounded.
In this team, alongside players like Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Ruben Neves and Joao Cancelo, Bruno can settle in his favorite position and manage the game as he knows how.
Examining his performance will show that he is everywhere, passes to every player, contributes every minute.
It seems that for Portugal and Fernando Santos there is no problem that Ronaldo will continue to be the show here at the World Cup in Qatar, as long as Bruno Fernandez is the one managing it.
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