Ronaldo loses the match against Portugal in the World Cup

Ronaldo loses the match against Portugal in the World Cup

Doha, Qatar –

So the dream is still alive for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Perhaps the most prolific goalscorer in modern football, at 37 years old and perhaps playing in his final World Cup, he may secure the only major title that eludes him in an unparalleled career.

However, it wasn't quite that way, as he walked off the field alone at Losail Stadium, leaving the rest of the Portugal squad to celebrate progressing to the quarter-finals following a 6-1 win over Switzerland on Tuesday.

In fact, it was a rather sad sight. One veteran left the scene while his teammates — some nearly half his age — continued to celebrate.

This has been a tumultuous and tumultuous few weeks for Ronaldo.

First came the exciting interview with Piers Morgan, which marked the beginning of his fifth World Cup campaign. Then the repercussions included the termination of his contract with Manchester United.

When the tournament began, he broke the record – becoming the first player to score in five different World Cups – then failed to score in successive matches and responded to the substitution against South Korea by showing. His resentment and his coach's anger.

Then came Tuesday night, a moment that could be seen as the beginning of the end of his glittering, record-breaking international career. Not only was he left out of the starting lineup, but the 21-year-old who replaced him – Goncalo Ramos – scored an impressive hat-trick.

Just imagine the thoughts running through Ronaldo's head as he walked off the field after playing about 20 minutes as a substitute?

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This was one of Portugal's greatest victories – in fact, it was the country's largest margin of victory in a World Cup knockout match – and it felt like Ronaldo couldn't get off the pitch fast enough.

So where does this leave Ronaldo? Already without a club, he is now likely to be Portugal's second choice behind Ramos, who made his debut for Portugal just three weeks ago.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos threw a lifeline to Ronaldo, saying that he would continue to select players according to the strengths and weaknesses of the team's opponent. But it is unreasonable for Ramos to lose his place now in the quarter-final match against Morocco.

“I will use what I think is the right strategy, as I have done all my life,” Santos said, more optimistic than ever.

Interestingly, Santos praised his team for playing “very smoothly” and “as a team”. It is difficult to formulate this style when Ronaldo, whose movement is not what it used to be, is the only striker.

His goal ruled out for offside against Switzerland was an example of a player trying to steal a few meters to compensate for his lack of pace, and this is not the first time that has happened at this World Cup.

Meanwhile, Ramos needed just 72 minutes in his first World Cup match – in fact, his first start in international football – to show he could be the future. His striking, link-up play and work off the ball underline why he is being talked about as one of the next big things in Portuguese football.

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Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes said that “most people in the world have never heard of him” before the match against Switzerland.

Well, now they have, and they expect Benfica to be busy carrying out investigations into a striker who scored 21 goals for the team in 2022 and just notched their first World Cup knockout stage hat-trick since Tomas Skohravy for Czechoslovakia in 1990.

While some top clubs may tempt Ramos, Ronaldo appears to be heading towards the obscurity of the Saudi Premier League, even if it comes with a hefty salary.

For a man who spent last summer pushing for a move from United because he wanted to play in the Champions League, this is quite the autumn.

Will he go there as a World Cup winner? Perhaps because Portugal produced a dynamic performance against Switzerland that was just as impressive as Brazil's performance the night before against South Korea.

There is still the tantalizing possibility of a title match between Argentina and Portugal. A showdown that will always be labeled a head-to-head between Ronaldo and his long-time rival, Lionel Messi.

But what might bother the Portuguese star, and what he was thinking when he left the field at Lusail Stadium, is that while Messi is taking Argentina to that final frontier with his goals and brilliant performances, Ronaldo is no longer the player carrying him. His national team.

Ronaldo may represent a burden, given the way Portugal performed without him against Switzerland.

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About the Author: Lucinda Lima

"Desbravador de cerveja apaixonado. Álcool alcoólico incurável. Geek de bacon. Viciado em web em geral."

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