Special envoy to Lusail
Special envoy to Lusail
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Fernando Santos, winning bet
Put Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench?
A number of Portuguese supporters were calling for him before this round of 16 against Switzerland on Thursday.
Fernando Santos had the courage to do it.
The fans who were waiting for CR7 at kick-off in the stands of Lusail are at their expense, but we can only welcome the blow of the 68-year-old technician.
Especially since it's a doubly winning bet: without the former Real Madrid star, his team has gained in speed, movement, percussion.
In addition, it was the one who took his place in the starting 11 who opened the scoring, the young (21) Benfica striker Gonçalo Ramos, of a huge mine who came to stay in the skylight of Yann Sommer, at the first post, a jewel.
Especially since he scored a hat-trick in the second half!
Winning bets for coach Santos, with of course this big victory (6-1) and the ticket for the quarter-finals that goes with it.
Note that he also saw well by putting Joao Cancelo, never at his level of City in selection, for Diogo Dalot.
One grandpa can hide another
If he had relegated CR7 to the bench at kick-off, Fernando Santos had maintained his confidence in the other veteran of this team, Pepe.
And the Porto defender turned into a scorer for the break (33rd), a victorious helmet shot following a corner.
His eighth goal in selection for his 132nd cap.
For the rest, the former Madrilenian has evolved in his standards, sounding the revolt at the quarter of an hour of play with a furious rise, as if to tell his little sleeping comrades to pass the second.
He matched words with deeds.
Note that Pepe becomes, at 39, the oldest scorer in a final phase of a World Cup.
Joao Felix, new nugget of Portuguese football.
This is what one might think a handful of years ago.
Since then, the Atlético player has struggled to confirm.
So much so that we can imagine him on the start line this winter.
With, for example, PSG to take advantage of the windfall, among others… Thursday evening, everyone will be talking about Ramos' magnificent hat-trick, and rightly so.
But the engine of this team was Felix, in great shape, silky ball touch, well felt orientations, always in the right tempo, nothing too much.
The real Felix?
Two assists for him, only one would be tempted to say, but involved in almost all the goals of his team during this demonstration of Portugal.
Apart from Breel Embolo, the AS Monaco striker, not much to come out positive from the Swiss national team on Tuesday evening.
A very weak Nati, which has never been able to compete with Portugal.
Fragile defensively, voiceless offensively, crunched in the middle… The Swiss simply did not exist.
It's all the more frustrating when you remember that they were the ones who dismissed France in the round of 16 of the Euro last year, after being led 3-1 until the "money-time" of the encounter…
Ronaldo in a hurry to leave
Ronaldo angry, Ronaldo frustrated, Ronaldo annoyed?
Yes of course.
Otherwise, Ronaldo wouldn't be Ronaldo… We're not talking about just anyone.
The 37-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner, however, took the time to take a selfie with a disabled supporter before the match, in the tunnel.
A moment that will undoubtedly remain etched in the memory of this young woman.
Ronaldo knows it well: being a superstar comes with rights and duties.
Disappointment has not made him forget them.
This is also the mark of the greats.
Finally called to come into play for the last quarter of an hour, after being claimed many times by the public of Lusail, he did everything to score.
And he even thought he could do it.
Portugal punched their ticket for the quarter-finals and CR7 came to warmly greet the kop.
However, he didn't see fit to wait for the rest of his teammates and left the field before everyone else.
Touched in his pride, he let himself be guided by disappointment rather than celebrate this flamboyant qualification.