Portugal manager explains decision to ‘drop’ Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal manager Fernando Santos has explained his motive for ‘dropping’ Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo against Spain last night. Ronaldo had to make do with a seat on the bench for that Nations League draw in Seville, but was called up for action in the second half.

Ronaldo made a stunning return to Old Trafford last summer, scoring 24 goals in all competitions. Despite there being little to do from the team’s perspective, it was a season in which Ronaldo also broke the record for most goals in senior internationals.

Heading into the game against Spain with 186 caps and 115 goals to his name in Portuguese colours, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner earned his 187th goal later in that Group A2 clash. According to his manager, that was always part of his plan at the Estadio Benito Villamarin in Seville.

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Ronaldo did not play for United in their Premier League final against Crystal Palace with a hip flexor problem. But this omission had nothing to do with that injury at the end of the season.

During his interview after the game, Santos said: “Cristiano Ronaldo? They often ask why he is a starter. It is the million dollar question. I understood that for this game it was better to use the players I used. It was a technical and tactical option for this game.

“It seemed like the best solution to us, given the way we wanted to play and approach the game.

“It has nothing to do with Cristiano’s quality. That’s not even up for discussion. There are times in the game when you have to think in a different way. We believed he could come in in the second half and play the game.” to resolve.”

United team-mate Bruno Fernandes did start this Nations League opener, though Diogo Dalot was an unused substitute. Portugal now plays against Switzerland (twice) and the Czech Republic before Sunday, June 12.

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