Luis Figo has slammed Portugal coach Fernando Santos for starting Cristiano Ronaldo from the bench against Morocco in Saturday’s World Cup quarterfinal.
Goncalo Ramos, who replaced Ronaldo in the starting lineup for the round of 16 match against Switzerland, scored three goals in a 6-1 triumph.
Before finally bringing in the 37-year-old early in the second half against Morocco, Santos again chose to name the seasoned forward among the substitutes.
The Portuguese team was eliminated after suffering a 1-0 loss; Youssef En-Nesyri’s goal in the first half was the deciding factor.
Ronaldo’s exclusion from the squad for the quarterfinal match, according to Luis Figo, was “a mistake.” The great attacker blamed Santos for the decision.
“You can’t win a World Cup with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench. Win against Switzerland? Excellent! But can you do that in every game? No,” AS quoted Figo as saying after the match.
“Leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench was a mistake, this defeat is the responsibility of the management and the manager.”
Ronaldo scored in Portugal’s opening match of the tournament against Ghana, making him the first male player to do so in five World Cups.
But after failing to score against Uruguay, South Korea, Switzerland, and Morocco, the forward had suggested that he might give up playing for the national team.
“Winning a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career. Fortunately I won many titles of international dimension, including Portugal, but putting our country’s name on the highest foot in the World was my biggest dream,” Ronaldo posted on Instagram.
“I fought for it. I fought hard for this dream. In the 5 appearances I scored in World Cups over 16 years, always by the side of great players and supported by millions of Portuguese, I gave my all. Leave it all out on the field. I never turned my face to the fight and I never gave up on that dream.”
“Sadly yesterday the dream ended It’s not worth reacting to heat. I just want you all to know that much has been said, much has been written, much has been speculated, but my dedication to Portugal hasn’t changed for a moment.”
“I was always one fighting for the objective of all and I would never turn my back on my colleagues and my country.”
“For now, there’s not much more to say. Thank you, Portugal. Thank you, Qatar. The dream was beautiful while it lasted… Now, it’s time to be a good advisor and allow each one to draw their own conclusions.”
Since his debut in 2003, Ronaldo has scored 118 goals in 196 games for Portugal.
In contrast, Luis Figo made 127 appearances for the European nation during his professional career and scored 32 goals, ranking him fourth among all goal scorers for Portugal after Ronaldo, Pauleta, and Eusebio.
Why Did Santo Leave Ronaldo On The Bench?
Fernando Santos argues that leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the sidelines for the match against Morocco had ‘no impact’ on his team’s elimination from the World Cup.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, started on the sidelines for Portugal for the second straight contest after being benched for the team’s 6-1 triumph over Switzerland in the round of 16.
The 37-year-old was introduced into the game in the 51st minute as Portugal attempted to equalize but ultimately left the field in tears when his team was eliminated from the competition.
After the loss, Santos responded to questions on the choice to sit Ronaldo out of the quarterfinal: “It had no impact on the team’s production.”
“The team was always united. I get the point, but if this were put in human terms, the two people who got the most pain from this were me and him.”
“But a coach cannot think with his heart, he has to think in terms of the team and the players as well. Emotionally, it is something that marks us but it had no influence.”
“I don’t regret it. The team did very well in the game against Switzerland, everything seemed to be going very well. Cristiano is a huge player, he came in when we understood that it was necessary.”
Who is Luis Figo?
Lus Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo OIH, a retired professional football player from Portugal who played as a winger for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan, was born on November 4, 1972.
He earned 127 caps for Portugal, a record that has since been surpassed by Joo Moutinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Pepe.
He is recognized by many as one of the best players in history.
His 106 assists are the second-most in La Liga history, just behind Lionel Messi, who is renowned for his inventiveness and vision.
He was voted FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001, and Pelé included him in the FIFA 100 list of the top 100 active players in the world in 2004. He also won the Ballon d’Or in 2000.
One of the rare footballers who have played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, rival clubs in Spain, is Figo.
His contentious 2000 move from Barcelona to Real Madrid established a record transfer fee of €62 million.
The Portuguese Cup, four La Liga championships, two Spanish Cups, three Spanish Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, one UEFA Champions League title, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, two UEFA Super Cups, one Italian Cup, and three Italian Super Cups are just a few of the trophies that Figo won during his successful career.
He scored 32 goals for Portugal at the international level, representing his country at three European Championships and two World Cups. He helped Portugal reach the Euro 2004 final but finished as runners-up.