December 12, 2022
After a promising start in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the Portuguese National Team were surprisingly knocked out of the tournament by Morocco, at the quarter-finals of the competition. Ronaldo, who only joined the game in the second half, was unable to lead his nation to World Cup glory...
Portugal's hopes of winning the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time ended abruptly at the hands of the 2022 World Cup surprise package Morocco in the quarter-finals. Despite coming into proceedings as clear-cut betting favourites, the Euro 2016 winners couldn't find a recipe for Morocco's water-tight defence that has conceded just once in five games in Qatar. The Atlas Lions have made history by becoming the first African nation to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup. And if you're interested in backing them to upset France, check out the netbet sign up offer to try your luck. Head coach Fernando Santos once again benched his talismanic captain Cristiano Ronaldo in favour of Benfica teenage sensation Gonçalo Ramos, but to no avail. While the gamble paid off massively against Switzerland in the first knockout round, where the 21-year-old striker bagged a hat-trick to inspire the Seleção to a 6-1 win, he was invisible against Morocco. Santos' last-ditch attempt to avoid another premature exit at major tournaments saw him introduce Ronaldo early in the second half, yet the 37-year-old failed to impact the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo - The end is near:
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner probably squandered his last opportunity to take home the World Cup crown and make a standout achievement that would go a long way down in his illustrious football legacy.
However, the Qatar showpiece wasn't a complete waste from Ronaldo's point of view, as his spot-kick against Ghana on day one made him the first player to score at five different World Cups.
Despite captaining Portugal to a comfortable top-table finish in a competitive-looking Group H, it was clear that the former Manchester United star's influence on his team's game was dwindling.
There's no doubt that fans and Ronaldo himself probably expected more from the all-time highest goalscorer in men's international football. But it's hard to blame the veteran for the team's quarter-final exit.
Morocco made Santos pay the ultimate price for not fielding his best forwards from the start.
No matter João Cancelo's indifferent form during the group stages, he should've started, with the same going for Rafael Leão, one of Europe's hottest young prospects.
Instead, Santos went with Raphael Guerreiro and Otavio, who massively struggled to make their presence on the left-hand side felt, allowing Achraf Hakimi to push them over all game long.
Though Ronaldo played down talks of his discontent with being overlooked in high-stakes knockout fixtures, his future with the national team is now up in the air.
Having qualified for every World Cup edition from 2002 onwards, Portugal are widely expected to appear at the 2026 tournament in North America.
But by the time the competition takes place, Ronaldo will be 41, so even if he makes the cut, provided he doesn't hang up his boots earlier, he'd likely have to settle for playing second fiddle.
It's much more realistic that his final shot at international glory with Portugal will come at Euro 2024.
The Seleção will be among the leading candidates to lift the title in Germany as they boast one of the fiercest squads in Europe, with Ronaldo likely to captain his country at a major tournament for the last time.
Cristiano Ronaldo next game for Manchester United in the Premier League is on December 21, against Burnley. You can watch Manchester United vs Burnley, Argentina vs Croatia, Aston Villa vs Liverpool, France vs Morocco, Arsenal vs West Ham, and Brentford vs Tottenham, all matches provided from our football live game pages.
Manchester United next game:
Manchester United vs Burnley kick-off time (21-12-2022):
Beijing (China) | UTC/GMT+8: 04:00
India (New Delhi) | UTC/GMT+5.30: 01:30
Italy (Turin) | UTC/GMT+1: 21:00
Spain (Madrid) | UTC/GMT+1: 21:00
Portugal and England (Lisbon/London) | UTC/GMT+0: 20:00
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) | UTC/GMT-3: 17:00
New York (United States) | UTC/GMT-5: 15:00
Los Angeles (United States) | UTC/GMT-8: 12:00