Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was once again benched as coach Fernando Santos named their starting line-up for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Morocco.
Ronaldo benched again! Santos sticks with hat-trick hero Ramos for Morocco (Reuters)
By India Today Web Desk: Former England captain Wayne Rooney reckons Portugal coach Fernando Santos made the right decision to bench captain Cristiano Ronaldo for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Morocco.
Notably, Portugal again left captain Ronaldo out of their starting line-up, keeping hat-trick hero Goncalo Ramos in the team. This is the second successive time that Ronaldo has not been named in the starting line-up, as he was benched for the 6-1 win over Switzerland in the last 16 where the 21-year-old Ramos scored three in only his fourth appearance.
Ronaldo, 37, was upset at being left out by coach Fernando Santos on the eve of the game, and Portugal’s football federation then had to deny reports that their skipper had threatened to leave the tournament. Rooney spoke on News18 ahead of the quarter-final match between Morocco and Portugal.
Portugal will attempt to end Morocco’s unbeaten streak. Portugal is at this stage for the third time, following 1966 and 2006, which is perhaps surprising given the country’s talent over the years. Portugal lost in the round of 16 to Uruguay four years ago, despite the fact that a group-stage game against Morocco was “possibly the most difficult match” the team faced, according to Santos on Friday.
Santos made one change on Saturday after that convincing win, with Ruben Neves in for William Carvalho, while his Morocco counterpart Walid Regragui was forced to shuffle his defense after Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui were ruled out by injury.
The absence of both is a major blow, with Yahia Attiat Allah in at left back for Mazraoui and Jawad El Yamiq replacing Aguerd. There had also been concern over the fitness of captain Romain Saiss and midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, but both will play.
Morocco: Yassine Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saiss, Jawad El Yamiq, Yahya Attiat-Allah, Sofyan Amrabat, Selim Amallah, Azzedine Ounahi, Hakim Ziyech, Soufiane Boufal, Youssef En-Nesyri
Portugal: Diogo Costa, Diogo Dalot, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Bruno Fernandes, Otavio, Bernardo Silva, Ruben Neves, Joao Felix, Goncalo Ramos