Bruno Fernandes has insisted any member of the Portugal squad would have angry to be benched after Cristiano Ronaldo was dropped from the starting XI against Switzerland.
Goncalo Ramos was named ahead of the 37-year-old in Tuesday’s quarter-final clash, scoring a stunning hat-trick as Portugal produced a sensational display in their 6-1 victory.
Ronaldo, failing to start at a major tournament for his country for the first time since Euro 2008, came off the bench with 17 minutes to play, seeing an effort chalked off for offside.
His former United teammate Fernandes insists Ronaldo remains a key part of the squad, admitting the veteran was frustrated to have been left out.
‘Do you think anyone likes to be on the bench?” Fernandes said. ‘I don’t think Cristiano would be happy. If the manager put me on the bench in the next game, I would be angry.’
He added: ‘We won the first two games with Cristiano in the first 11, and it could be that if Cristiano played, he could score three goals and no one would be speaking about Cristiano being on the bench.
‘Cristiano is doing his job, he’s doing his part, he’s happy with the result because the goal for everyone is to go as far as possible.
‘I don’t think people should be talking about Cristiano and why he’s not playing, because when Cristiano plays and the team wins, no one talks about that.
‘When Cristiano plays and the team loses, everyone talks.[He is] the most famous player in the world. No one is more famous than Cristiano in sports, not in football, in sports.’
Portugal take on Morocco to book a place in the semi-finals on Saturday.
While he didn’t rule out the possibility of Ronaldo returning to the starting XI, manager Fernando Santos suggested another place on the bench could await.
‘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,’ Santos said when asked if Ronaldo will play against Morocco.
‘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.’
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