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Jose Fonte explains why Portugal are better tactically without Cristiano Ronaldo in honest assessment

Jose Fonte explains why Portugal are better tactically without Cristiano Ronaldo in honest assessment

Ronaldo was on the bench in Tuesday's 6-1 win over Switzerland.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been told Portugal 'play more as a team' when he isn't in the starting XI by international teammate Jose Fonte.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner started Tuesday's 6-1 victory over Switzerland in the World Cup round of 16 on the bench.

His replacement, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick and registered an assist in a star-making performance.

It's caused a huge debate about Portugal captain Ronaldo's place in the team. Fonte, who was part of Fernando Santos' preliminary squad for Qatar before being cut, was full of praise for Portugal's midweek showing.

The former Southampton and West Ham United defender told a podcast per A Bola: "When he [Ronaldo] is not there, Portugal plays more as a team and that was seen (against Switzerland). They played fluidly, without a single focal point, everyone contributed and it was beautiful to see."

Fonte, who won Euro 2016 with Ronaldo, still believes the 37-year-old can play an important role at this World Cup coming on late in games. He's also tipped his country to go all the way in Qatar and win their first World Cup.

He continued: "You cannot teach a legend like Ronaldo.

Ronaldo came off the bench against Switzerland. (Image

"Ronaldo will always be Ronaldo and for Portugal, it is even very positive to have a player like him come off the bench - it will be one more problem to cause the opponents.

"Fernando Santos brought a very strong mentality to the national team. The team has a great ability to defend together. And it will cause offensive problems in every game. I believe that Portugal will go to the end of the journey, the World Cup is the title we are missing. Let's keep our fingers crossed for that to happen."

A fairer take on Ronaldo, who still managed to score 24 goals last season despite criticism from supporters and pundits alike.

Ronaldo recently called the Portugal team 'too tight-knit' to be broken by 'outside forces'. (Image

Ronaldo is currently without a club after leaving Manchester United via mutual consent last month. It's expected he'll make a decision on his new club following the World Cup.

Standing in Portugal's way in the quarter-finals are Morocco, who defeated Spain in a thrilling penalty shootout on Tuesday.

Interestingly, Ronaldo scored the winner in 2018 when Portugal and Morocco were in the same World Cup group out in Russia.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, Football World Cup