Cristiano Ronaldo has 'absolutely no chance' of starting for Portugal against Morocco in World Cup quarter-finals
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Cristiano Ronaldo has “absolutely no chance” of starting for Portugal in their forthcoming World Cup quarter-final clash with Morocco, according to Stuart Pearce.
Ronaldo was dropped from the starting XI against Switzerland on Tuesday evening in a controversial move by Portugal manager Fernando Santos.
Santos made a bold call to start Goncalo Ramos as Ronaldo’s replacement and the decision paid off in dividends after the Benfica player scored a stunning hat-trick.
Ramos, who also registered an assist, became the first player to score a hat-trick in his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose as Portugal ran riot on the night.
Ronaldo came off the bench in the second half, replacing Joao Felix, as Portugal thumped Switzerland 6-1 in their round-of-16 clash at the Lusail Stadium.
Ronaldo’s stunning partner, Georgina Rodriguez, broke her silence on social media after the 37-year-old Portugal captain was dropped for the Switzerland match.
However, former Team GB and England Under-21s manager Pearce believes that it would be “absolute folly” for Santos to not play Ramos after his sensational hat-trick.
The 60-year-old former England defender suggested that Ronaldo could find himself on the bench again for Portugal’s quarter-final clash on 10th December.
“Santos has got absolutely no chance of bringing Ronaldo back. Ramos has just scored a hat-trick, it would be absolute folly to not play him,” Pearce told talkSPORT.
“The only bigger stage is the next round for him. I think he’s a definite starter. You can’t leave him out after that. They look a better side.”
Portugal boss Santos remained cryptic on whether Ronaldo would start against Morocco after his side’s 6-1 demolition of Switzerland in the last 16.
When asked about the possibility of playing Ronaldo against Morocco, Santos responded: “Ronaldo will definitely [be involved], all the players on the bench can be used, if they are not in the starting line-up they can play later.
“It is important to look at the example of this player’s history, he is one of the best players in the world at playing professionally, being captain -- all we have to do is think about this team collectively.”
Santos added that the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star’s role remains to be “defined,” but he insisted that Ronaldo remains an “important player to have in the team.”