Until last Tuesday, 21-year-old Gonzalo Ramos had played a total of 33 minutes for Portugal's senior team, 10 of them at the World Cup in Qatar against Ghana and Uruguay.
This little experience with the Salsa uniform did not scare him when he was chosen to start the team against Switzerland in place of Cristiano Ronaldo in the round of 16.
While the crowd at the Lusail Stadium wanted to see the veteran striker still tango as part of his last line, Ramos came on, scored a hat-trick, added an assist and instantly went from a talented but rather anonymous player to a football star, a discovery for Portugal and possibly the biggest punishment Ronaldo has received, if anything What he has been going through in recent months is not enough.
With his tremendous display, Ramos became the first player to score a hat-trick on his World Cup debut since Miroslav Klose in 2002.
He also became the first player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup knockout since Tomasz Skorhaby of the Czech Republic in 1:4 against Costa Rica in the round of 16 in 1990.
In addition, he became the second youngest to score a goal in the World Cup for Portugal, with the first being his guy who took the place in the 11th.
The opportunity that Ramos won and what brought him to Portugal's star-studded squad for Qatar in the first place is the ability he has provided since the beginning of the year at Benfica.
In 21 appearances in all competitions he scored 14 goals and added six assists.
He is one of the main reasons why the luxury club leads the Portuguese league, with 12 wins from 13 games and, of course, a senior partner in the tremendous group stage it recorded in the Champions League at home with Maccabi Haifa, ahead of PSG and Juventus.
Believing in the child, photo: AFP
Ramos, who made his debut in Benfica's senior team in July 2020, took advantage of the sale of Darvin Nunes to Liverpool, got an opportunity to become the leading striker at the Stadium of Light and took it with both hands, when in Benfica's first official match of the year in the Champions League qualifiers against Denmark's Mittelland he also finished with A magnificent hat-trick, the first hat-trick of his career.
While all over the world, of course, they were concerned with Ronaldo's failure to be included in the squad, and analyzed his relationship with Fernando Santos, it is very possible that the choice of coach Bramos, precisely for the Portuguese themselves, goes very smoothly.
In a poll conducted by the local newspaper "A Bola" before the match with the Swiss, 70 percent of the fans voted that they prefer Ronaldo to start on the bench.
When they saw Ramos, they were probably satisfied, if only because of his numbers this year.
After all, there is nothing more fun than seeing a player who makes it all the way from the youth teams to the stamp he receives in the senior team.
Ronaldo celebrates one of Ramos' goals against Switzerland.
Real joy?, Photo: Reuters
Ramos has bombed for Portugal since he was a teenager, representing his country from the under-17 team. He was a key cog in Portugal's journey to the Euro U19 finals in 2019, scoring four goals in five appearances, finishing as the tournament's top scorer, including a hat-trick against the Republic of Ireland.
In his senior debut, which came during Portugal's pre-tournament friendly against Nigeria, he helped his teammates to a 4-0 win with a goal and an assist.
and back to Qatar.
With all due respect to Ronaldo, Ramos provides Portugal with things that today the phenomenon can no longer provide.
He assists in the defense, chases defenders, helps the pressing game and does everything that also made Eric ten Haag at Manchester United waste Ronaldo's minutes, until the publicized departure last month.
Ramos, beyond the ability to score goals, often goes back or to the sides to open up the game for the wing players who play next to him, he makes the opposing defenders chase him and get out of positions and this is something that Ronaldo unfortunately can no longer do.
Looking at Morocco's game against Spain and the tactical discipline of its players, it seems that Ramos can once again be the X factor.
In any case, and regardless of what Santos' decision will be - there will be no peace in the Portuguese camp.
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