Shaken at the start of the tournament by player setbacks with Manchester United, the Seleção das Quinas did all they could to silence critics and refocus attention on the pitch ahead of Tuesday’s round of 16 clash with Switzerland.
The ball is placed on the penalty kick, Cristiano Ronaldo is staring into space, breathing, taking his time. The referee blows his whistle. The Portuguese turns to the Ghanaian goalkeeper, and the leather comes to clip at the bottom of the net. CR7 rejoices and goes to celebrate his goal towards the corner post. From his ten teammates on the field to the substitute bench, everyone runs after him, circles him, and hugs him. As soon as the Portuguese captain sat on the bench, we saw the roles reversed, and Ronaldo resisted his teammates at the slightest opportunity and then came at the end of the match to encourage his goalkeeper, guilty of two big balls. The Portuguese appeared determined in front of cameras around the world to send a message: Despite rumors of all kinds, the group is united around its leader. And everyone is looking in the same direction.
Throughout the first round, in the mixed zone or during the daily press conferences held at the Portuguese Training Centre, from the coach to the players, everyone insisted on this unity. After the victory over Uruguay (2-0), Fernando Santos, coach of Seleção das Quinas since 2014: “My team is very united, and we have a very good team spirit.” When he accepts the award for best player against Ghana, Cristiano Ronaldo makes it clear that he owes the title above all to his country “Teamwork” : “In my opinion, we were all winners, we had a great game.” The same evening, at Extensions Stadium 974, p