Fernando Santos insists he had no problem in leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench as Portugal played out an “interesting result” in their Nations League opener with Spain.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos was naturally quizzed on the reason behind not starting Portugal’s all-time leading goalscorer. He explained that the decision was purely tactical and that he believed the 37-year-old could make an impact off the bench.
“It was a technical and tactical option for this game. It seemed to us the best solution. For the way, we wanted to play and approach the game. It has nothing to do with Cristiano’s quality, that’s not even in question,” the 67-year-old said after the game.
“There are moments in the game when you have to think in a different way. We believed that in the second half he could come in and solve the game.”
Andre Silva was selected as a starter and Santos added that in his opinion the RB Leipzig striker was more adept at a few things as compared to the United star.
“For this game, I thought it was important to have a player like Andre Silva starting. He is hard-working, closes in behind, he can do a few things that Cristiano Ronaldo cannot do the same way,” the former Benfica boss explained.
This comment will now further add fuel to the fire regarding Ronaldo’s lack of pressing from the front. This has been a major bone of contention among pundits in England, many of whom have asked new Manchester United boss Erik Ten Hag to be ruthless with regards to the former Real Madrid man.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal came from behind to snatch a draw against Spain in UEFA Nations League
Alvaro Morata fired Spain into a 25th-minute lead with his 26th strike in all competitions for his country, Ronaldo was introduced after the hour mark but it was fellow substitute Ricardo Horta who made the difference.
Horta popped up at the back post with eight minutes remaining to coolly convert Joao Cancelo’s low, whipped cross from the right flank, snatching a 1-1 draw for Portugal in Seville.
Portugal host Switzerland on Sunday in their next Group A2 game, while Spain visits the Czech Republic on the same day.