Cristiano Ronaldo ‘takes more off the table than he puts on it,’ claims FOX Sports’ David Mosse as he suggests Portugal are BETTER without the star… while Alexi Lalas claims it was a ‘defining moment’ for Fernando Santos
Cristiano Ronaldo did not factor into Portugal’s dominant 6-1 win over Switzerland and it may have signaled that the star’s powers are diminishing.
FOX Sports analysts David Mosse and Alexi Lalas debated this after Portugal manager Fernando Santos chose to leave the forward out of his starting XI.
In his place, Santos went with Benfica youngster Goncalo Ramos – who bagged a hat trick in his first start at this World Cup.
Eventually, Ronaldo was substituted on in the 74th minute, putting up one shot during the match.
Cristiano Ronaldo was left stewing on the bench as he watched his Portugal teammates run riot over Switzerland – with his replacement Goncalo Ramos getting a hat trick in the 6-1 win
Goncalo Ramos’s coming out party saw him score three goals in his very first World Cup start
Ramos’s treble having replaced Ronaldo was the first hat-trick at the 2022 World Cup finals
Following the game, Mosse suggested that the Portugal national team was better off without Ronaldo, as was Manchester United.
‘Fernando Santos has reached the same conclusion that Erik ten Hag reached. I think it’s hard to argue at this point that at the highest level, Ronaldo now takes more off the table than he puts on,’ Mosse said on an episode of the ‘State of the Union’ podcast.
‘The performance that Portugal put forth tonight, this was the realization of what I’d been hoping for from this team for the last few years and all that talent actually coming together in that way. And you can’t get away from the fact that he wasn’t on the field when that happened.
So, I don’t think he’s gonna start the next match either. I think they’re gonna move forward in this direction. Ramos was unbelievable, [Rafael] Leao comes on and gets a goal, Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, you know I’ve been rattling off the names for years.
Ramos took just 17 minutes to make his mark in his first start by lashing home a fierce strike
Ronaldo was benched at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004
‘I’m enamored of their talent and I did kinda start to think recently that Ronaldo was maybe the guy that was getting in the way – and you take him off the field and all of a sudden they win 6-1.’
Lalas, the former United States defender, agreed with Mosse’s assessment, saying: ‘This was almost the perfect moment for him [Santos] to do this, and he had to get it right – the dynamic within that team – he had to have his finger on the pulse.
‘And when I say it was the perfect moment, what [Santos] had was – for maybe the first time – the backing of the public, in that there were a lot of fans that did not want Cristiano Ronaldo to start and believe that this team is better.
‘And that power balance had shifted. We know Cristiano with all the power that he has over the years – and for good reason because he was the man and he drove this team.
Fernando Santos will have more tough decisions to make against Morocco in the quarterfinals
Former USMNT defender Alexi Lalas claimed it was the ‘perfect moment’ to drop the star
‘But, Fernando Santos really had to walk a real thin wire there in order to figure out how to deal with this. And oh to be a fly on that wall when he told Cristiano that this wasn’t going to happen and what that reaction may or may not have been.
‘Ultimately he looked good, the optics were great, patting people on the back… but you know down deep inside – just like any player – he’s not happy… but this was a huge moment for Fernando Santos and maybe the defining moment for Portugal in their attempt to win a World Cup.’
Naturally, the 37-year-old’s absence from the starting lineup stole the headlines in the lead up to the last 16 clash, but Santos has since claimed he was left out for tactical reasons.
‘This is something that is finished and solved,’ he said when quizzed on his high-profile call. ‘It is also important to look at the example of this player’s history, he is one of the best players in the world.’