"Can start on the bench against Spain" - Portuguese media turn on Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of decisive UEFA Nations League clash

Some Portuguese media outlets have asked for Cristiano Ronaldo to be benched against Czech Republic.
Some Portuguese media outlets have asked for Cristiano Ronaldo to be benched against Czech Republic.

Portuguese publication A Bola has called for Cristiano Ronaldo to be benched for their clash against Spain in the UEFA Nations League clash on Tuesday (September 7).

As per The Mirror, they ran the headline "menos Ronaldo, mais Portugal", which translates to "less Ronaldo, more Portugal."

A Bola also claimed that the forward is losing influence in selection and could be benched against Spain in an important clash at the Estadio Municipal de Braga.

A Selecao are top of their Nations League group with 10 points from five games while Spain are second, two points behind them. A win for La Roja would see them qualify as the fourth and final team for the Nations League semi-finals next summer.

Any other result would mean that Portugal qualifies instead and join the Netherlands, Italy, and Croatia in the tournament's finals.

One player tipped to start instead of the Manchester United striker is Liverpool's Diogo Jota.

The former Wolverhampton Wanderers attacker has returned from a hamstring injury that restricted him to making just one appearance for the Reds this term. He came on for Rafael Leao in the 67th minute against Czech Republic and scored the last of their four goals in a 4-0 win on September 24.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, finished last season as United's top-scorer in all competitions, scoring 24 goals in 38 games. This season, however, the story is different.

He has scored just once in eight games across competitions, with just three of those appearances coming in the starting XI.

It remains to be seen if manager Fernando Santos will pay heed to the suggestions from Portuguese media and bench their captain.

The former Real Madrid ace started and played the full 90 minutes against the Czech Republic and assisted Jota's 82nd-minute goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo is on a poor goal-scoring run for Portugal

Ronaldo holds the record for most goals scored in international football, netting a ridiculous 117 goals in 190 senior appearances

However, he is no longer scoring at a rate where his manager can excuse his work-rate off the ball. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is no longer known for his pressing abilities. This is natural given that the 37-year-old's body cannot put in a shift every match for 90 minutes.

Former Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick admitted that he had to change his team's tactics due to Ronaldo not being effective at pressing.

He has scored in just one out of his last eight appearances for Portugal, playing 90 minutes in all but one of those matches. He scored twice and assisted once in Portugal's 4-0 Nations League win over Switzerland on June 5.

These are his only two goals for his country since November 2021.

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Edited by Aditya Singh
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