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Cristiano Ronaldo Benched For Portugal Because Teammate Can 'Do Things He Can't'

Jack Kenmare

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Cristiano Ronaldo Benched For Portugal Because Teammate Can 'Do Things He Can't'

Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports/Alamy

Fernando Santos has defended his decision to leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of Portugal's latest starting XI.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who is Portugal's all-time top goalscorer with 115 goals, was handed a place on the substitutes bench for their Nations League clash against Spain.

Ronaldo eventually came on in the 62nd minute, replacing Otavio, while Andre Silva was taken off for Valencia forward Goncalo Guede at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

The 37-year-old forward made an impact after coming on and, after Spain wasted numerous opportunities to put the game to bed, Ricardo Hota equalised for Portugal to make it 1-1.

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Many pointed out that Ronaldo should have started against Luis Enrique's side on Thursday night, but Portugal manager Fernando Santos defended his decision to leave him on the bench.

In his post-match press conference, the 67-year-old pointed out that RB Leipzig forward Andre Silva can do things Ronaldo can't.

"It was just one option-a manager's option, a tactical option," Santos said.

"This is how these our games are going to be decided. For this game, I thought it was important to have a player like Andre [Silva] starting. He is hard-working, closes in behind, he can do a few things that Cristiano [Ronaldo] cannot do the same way."

Santos added: "Cristiano can do many other things and that is why he is the best player in the world but this was my choice this time. I am going to rotate the players a lot during the next three games."

Ahead of this week's Nations League game against Spain, Ronaldo last started on the bench for Portugal in their 2017 clash against Andorra.

He remained positive about the result in his post-match interview.

"The League of Nations is a competition that will forever be linked to the National Team, the first to win this trophy," he said.

"Our start in this edition, with an important draw in Spain, renews our ambition. The same as always, the same that moves us and unites us at all times: winning for Portugal."

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

After the full-time whistle on Thursday night, Spanish centre-back Pau Torres shared a moment with Ronaldo as they swapped jerseys.

It's fair to say their interaction didn't go unnoticed by some Manchester United fans.

Thoughts on Ronaldo starting on the bench for Portugal for the first time in five years?

Let us know in the comments.

Topics: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, UEFA Nations League, Spain

Jack Kenmare
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