Today, Monday, the Portuguese Federation announced the appointment of Spaniard Roberto Martinez as coach of the Portuguese national team, to succeed Fernando Santos, who led Belgium from 2016 until its elimination from the group stage in the 2022 World Cup.
The first challenge for the 49-year-old coach, whose contract term has not yet been decided, will be in clarifying the role of Cristiano Ronaldo who has just presented, after the controversial World Cup, a golden exile by joining the Saudi club. Victory.
“The starting point will be a group of 26 players who participated in the World Cup, and Cristiano Ronaldo is one of them,” Martinez said in a press conference, adding cautiously that he would make his decisions “on the field, not in the office.”
And the Catalan had left the head of the Red Devils at the beginning of December by stressing that their early exclusion in the World Cup was not the reason for his departure, according to what he said just before the tournament.
After a difficult victory over Canada (1-0), Belgium followed with a loss against Morocco (2-0) and a draw with Croatia (0-0).
Martinez took over Belgium in 2016, after their painful elimination in the quarter-finals of the European Championships to Wales. Under his leadership, the team reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, losing to France, who would win the tournament, and for more than three years was at the top of the FIFA world rankings.
The Portuguese national team is also emerging from a long period of stability after eight years under the leadership of Fernando Santos, who gave it the first major titles in its history: Euro 2016 and the first edition of the Nation’s League in 2019.
When the 68-year-old coach announced his departure, five days after the Selecao was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup against Morocco (1-0), the Portuguese press reported that the federation wanted to sign him. His compatriot, Jose Mourinho, is contracted to Roma.