What's going on with Cristiano Ronaldo?

This game was interesting because, for the first time since 2008, Ronaldo wasn’t on the starting lineup.

What's going on with Cristiano Ronaldo?
Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group H - South Korea v Portugal - Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - December 2, 2022 Portugal coach Fernando Santos and Cristiano Ronaldo look on REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is a pretty legendary name in the world of sports. More specifically, though, he’s known for his goal-scoring ability. He began his senior career with Sporting CP before signing with Manchester United, but then he left that team after publicly criticizing its hierarchy.

Now, at 37 years old, Ronaldo plays for Portugal and actually captains the team. And, as the 2022 World Cup enters its quarter-finals, Portugal is still very much in the game. In their last game, which was against Switzerland, Portugal won 6-1.

This game was interesting because, for the first time since 2008, Ronaldo wasn’t on the starting lineup. Instead, a young striker Gonçalo Ramos took his place and was able to perform the first hat trick of the tournament while on the field. And while this was a risky decision by Portugal coach Fernando Sanchez, it paid off.

Explaining why, Sanchez said, “We wanted a team that played with a lot of fluidity. Cristiano is more fixed, he stays in a more determined role towards the box. Gonçalo has different characteristics: he is very dynamic and that’s what he ended up showing us.”

The entire stadium was chanting his name while cameras remained fixated on him, waiting for him to finally play. With 16 minutes left on the clock (and with four goals already made by Portugal), Sanchez sent Ronaldo out to play off the bench. Another young player, Rafael Leao, stole his spotlight on the field, though. At the end of the match, Ronaldo joined his team in celebrating the win on the field.

But some are saying that this could mark the end of Ronaldo’s starring role on the pitch. In their next game, Portugal is playing Morocco. And many are wondering whether Ronaldo will be on the bench or the field.

Editor's correction: This piece previously inaccurately stated that Ronaldo's first team was Manchester United. It was, in fact, Sporting CP.