Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has rated Cristiano Ronaldo's performance in their Nations League loss against Spain on September 27.
Alvaro Morata scored the only goal of the match in the dying minutes to help Spain win 1-0. It ousted Portugal from the tournament, allowing Spain to qualify for the last four stage.
Portugal's worry will not only be with their loss but also about the lack of form of their iconic forward Cristiano Ronaldo. The Manchester United superstar failed to score despite getting numerous chances.
He was criticised for his performance and deemed as too slow by some fans against Spain.
Santos defended his star forward, claiming that Ronaldo finds the back of the net more often than not.
"Ronaldo usually scores, he didn't. It's football. Normally we expect it to happen and it hasn't."
He instead focused on his team's performance, which as per the manager's analysis was disconnected.
Santos added that the pace was not maintained well and introducing new players failed to adequately change the match in Portugal's favor.
"Portugal had chances in the first half, something was still missing. The midfield was a little late. Sometimes we wanted to score very quickly. I tried to change. I introduced new players, it seemed that we also needed the ball through the central zone, we needed someone faster and Vitinha is good at that. But we couldn't. The team was disconnected, we ended up conceding a goal.''
Portugal, who won the 2019 Nations League title, have been kicked out of the current edition after the defeat against Spain.
''If we have to defend, we have to defend with everything. efficiency, but that's not all. We thought we could make it to the final, we're sad."
The head coach admitted that his team needed to improve their performances ahead of the Qatar World Cup.
"There are things to improve in order to be at the top of the World Championship."
Ronaldo has suffered a poor run of form this season. His position in the Manchester United team has come under question with the Portuguese forward starting only Premier League game so far.
He is struggling to make the team under new coach Erik ten Hag and has only scored one goal (in the Europa League against Sheriff) from the penalty spot for the Red Devils this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo's poor outings adds pressure on Santos ahead of Qatar World Cup
Santos has an enviable squad at his disposal at the moment. He will, however, be worried about the dropping standards of his legendary forward, Cristiano Ronaldo. With Portugal heavily equipped all around the pitch, they will need their talisman to start delivering in front of goal.
The superstar forward's drop in form comes at the worst time for Santos and Portugal with the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the horizon.
Critics have already begun to question Santos' obsession with selecting the five-time Ballon d'Or winner ahead of other in-form forwards.