Cristiano Ronaldo Nov 28, 2022; Lusail, Qatar; Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo (7) against Uruguay during the second half of the group stage match in the 2022 World Cup at Lusail Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Portugal manager Fernando Santos wouldn’t reveal whether or not captain Cristiano Ronaldo would start against Switzerland. Just before the game, Portugal’s team sheet was revealed, and Santos made his decision.

Ronaldo will be starting on the bench for Portugal’s round of 16 match. This comes after Ronaldo negatively reacted to being subbed out of their final group stage match against South Korea. Ronaldo seemed to say, “He’s in a rush to sub me,” referring to Santos, while Santos said in his pregame press conference after seeing what happened, “I didn’t like it. Didn’t like it at all.”

While this is a big deal that Portugal’s star player is on the bench for a crucial knockout stage game, this may or may not be because of what happened against South Korea. Sure, it’s the first knockout stage game Ronaldo hasn’t started for Portugal since the Euro 2000 semifinal, but Ronaldo is 37, and he’s probably not going 120 minutes. There’s a good chance he’s not going the full 90, much less 120 and penalties. But that’s a potential strategy that has nothing to do with the South Korea sub.

Now, if Portugal is tied or behind and it’s the 70th minute and Ronaldo isn’t on the pitch, then it’s about the South Korea match.

The news of Ronaldo’s benching sent shockwaves throughout the soccer world.

The winner of Portugal-Switzerland will face Morocco in the quarterfinal.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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