For CR7 yet another disappointment in a season that has always seen him as a protagonist in the negative. The Rossoneri were left on the bench for a long time
Go down in history for the wrong reason. If Morocco celebrates for itself and for a continent that sends a team to the semifinals of a World Cup for the first time, Portugal inevitably becomes the other side of the coin, i.e. the national team that first loses against an African. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, please. But it was certainly not what Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Leao and Pepe had in mind. Their dream was perhaps that of many, or rather a final Messi-CR7, Argentina-Portugal. Instead…
There are many faces to this defeat. The one that appears more than any other in the collective imagination, when you close your eyes, either in desperation or in surprise, is undoubtedly that of Cristiano Ronaldo. His annus horribilis never seems to end. The troubled summer, the story with Manchester United ended as bad as it could be, a World Cup as a substitute, badly tolerated even by his teammates, so they say. And then entering the field when the sinking ship had to be saved. A couple of pitches, one even poisonous in the recovery, but in the end only tears, only bitterness, only a mountain of doubts about the future, all to be decided. Will he now say yes to the Saudi carload of millions? Or will he seek true glory in a team that is ready to take on the weight of a certainly cumbersome, expensive and no longer decisive player, as we saw in Qatar and throughout the first part of the season? Remain CR7, remain an icon, a legend, but time doesn’t give anyone discounts. But before thinking about tomorrow, we need to digest a today that tastes like gall. It was his last World Cup at the age of 37. In his head there was another final, perhaps with the cup in his hands, certainly with a smile. History has instead written one that relegates him to the margins of this infinitely splendid Qatari adventure. All true, sorry legend. There isn’t always a happy ending.
Rafa returns home after a World Cup that certainly didn’t see him among the protagonists. And not because of him. Fernando Santos too often forgot him on the bench. When he came on he showed he can make a difference even at this level, there was no doubt. He returns to Maldini and Massara, they hope with pen in hand. Ready to swear allegiance to the Devil maybe to send to hell those who didn’t fully believe in him. Against Morocco he came on in the final twenty minutes, he missed two at the first ball, ending up with his legs in the air with a yellow card for the opponent. The Portuguese coach put him in when the Moroccan defense was a fort by now, the goal was barred, the wall to break through was too high and too thick. Would it have been a different story if he had come on earlier, maybe at 0-0, maybe from the start, when there were still spaces for him to ride? We will never know.
“The end of a dream” headlined A Bola, Portugal’s most famous sports newspaper. A dream that wasn’t actually born in the air. There were all the preconditions to make progress, at least to get to play a semi-final with the cards in order. As Bruno Fernandes recalled after the match: “We are destroyed, football is like this. We created many chances but we couldn’t find a way to equalize. Obviously we are sorry, we could have done it, but that’s how it went ”. Yep, that’s how it went. But tell that to Ronaldo and Leao. Because maybe it could not even go like this.
Coach Santos remains firm on his decision to leave Ronaldo on the bench: “I don’t regret it, the team did very well in the match against Switzerland. Cristiano is a great player and he came on when we realized it would be useful for us. Not I have such regrets.”
December 10, 2022 (change December 10, 2022 | 19:49)
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