Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner, Georgina Rodriguez, criticized Portugal manager Fernando Santos’s decision to bench her spouse in their World Cup defeat to Morocco.
Georgina Rodríguez slammed Fernando Santos on her Instagram page for not starting “the best player of the world” Cristiano Ronaldo in the 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Morocco on Saturday, December 10.
African giant Morocco shocked Portugal, 1-0 and potentially ending Ronaldo’s prospects of ever winning a World Cup.
The five-time Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo will be 41 years old when the United States, Mexico, and Canada host the 2026 World Cup tournament.
Ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final against Morocco, many expected that Ronaldo would be in the starting lineup for Portugal after he was benched during the Round of 16 match against Switzerland.
In what appears as a raging decision, the 37-year-old Ronaldo started off the bench once again and only came in as a substitute in the 51st minute of the second half during the Quarter-final game against Morocco on Saturday.
However, Ronaldo’s presence didn’t make a conceivable difference, as the superstar arrived a little too late with Morocco already up 1-0 and having solidified their defense.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez, showing her support for her partner took to her Instagram page to slam the Portugal manager for what she called a “wrong” decision.
Rodriguez said Fernando Santos’ biggest mistake was underestimating the “best player in the world.”
Rodriguez wrote:“Today your friend and coach decided wrong. That friend for whom you have so many words of admiration and respect.”
One of the most prolific scorers in the history of football wasn’t on the field to start and Rodriguez believed the match would have turned in Portugal’s favor had it been the world’s best player, Ronaldo started.
She added: “The same one who, by getting you into the game, saw how everything changed, but it was too late. You cannot underestimate the best player in the world, his most powerful weapon.”
“Nor can you stick up for someone who doesn’t deserve it. Life teaches us lessons. Today we have not lost, we have learned.”
It’s uncertain if Cristiano Ronaldo would have made a significant impact if he had started the match against Morocco.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had just 10 touches when he came in as a substitute against Morocco.
It’s certainly worth wondering how Ronaldo would have made a vital difference if he was given more chances.
When Cristiano Ronaldo came in as a substitute in the 51st minute, the stadium went wild with high expectations that he would give the Portuguese an equalizer.
Portugal fans were optimistic that their captain, Cristiano Ronaldo would have his heroic World Cup moment and lead his side to victory but to their chagrin, that didn’t happen.
However, Portugal’s head coach Santos was asked after the match if he regretted not starting Ronaldo.
Santos said: “I don’t think so. No regrets. No regrets. I think this was a team which played very well against Switzerland.
Cristiano is a great player. He came in when we thought that was necessary. So, no, I have no regrets.”
Meanwhile, the 37-year-old Ronaldo couldn’t withhold his emotions after the loss and was seen wiping away his tears in the tunnel as he walked to the locker room.
This marks Ronaldo’s fifth World Cup, and the legendary striker had hoped to make this tournament his possible last and most memorable one.
Perhaps his weeping was for another reason different entirely from Portugal’s exit from the Qatar World Cup tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been the center of attention from the moment he arrived in Qatar.
The Portuguese captain had bags of criticisms roaring from the drama of leaving Manchester United and reportedly hurrying on to play for Saudi Arabia club Al Nassr in the coming transfer window.
There were also rumors that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner threatened to leave Portugal’s national team over losing his starting spot, but that didn’t meet any confirmation.
It remains to be seen what would become of Ronaldo after Morocco dashes his dream of winning the World Cup for his nation before his retirement.