Before kick off there were calls for Cristiano Ronaldo to be dropped by Portugal, and his performance against Spain won’t have done his defence to stay in the team any good.
This could quite easily be described as the worst period in Ronaldo’s career, as far as form on the pitch is concerned, as the five time Ballon d’Or winner approaches his 38th birthday.
He has been dropped by new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag, only starting three games this season, with only one of those being a win.
It looks unlikely that he will force his way back into the starting line up of a team who look better without him right now, especially after a summer where he wanted out of Old Trafford.
However, now his place in the Portugal team for the World Cup is coming into question, with Portuguese outlet A Bola using the headline ‘Less Ronaldo, More Portugal,’ ahead of the Nations League group decider against Spain.
A Bola’s headline called for ‘less Ronaldo.’ They argued that his lack of game time and goals meant he should have been benched, with the former Real Madrid star failing to score and giving away a penalty in the previous game against Czech Republic.
Despite the headline, Fernando Torres decided to start the superstar forward against their neighbours on Tuesday night, with fans remembering his hat-trick against the same opponents at the 2018 World Cup.
But the match and performance were far from a throwback to Russia, and compilations of his highlights show he was far from his best.
Shots were missed, passes went askew and he was generally left looking pretty frustrating. One fan even sarcastically, or at least you have to hope it was, put the goat emoji alongside the video.
One Ronaldo fan page even accepted the issues, saying, “Ronaldo has lost his powers and its pretty acceptable at the age of 37.
“We have to accept he’s not the same guy anymore.”
A United page added, “Cristiano Ronaldo still has the mentality, but his abilities are fading, and it’s normal with age. No matter how much you love him, have to admit it’s time to gradually step aside.
“I’m not criticising him. Just a reminder that every good thing MUST come to an end.”
Portuguese football journalist Zach Lowry added, “There is absolutely zero explanation for Cristiano Ronaldo to still be a starter for Portugal in 2022. Not when there’s Rafael Leao, Pedro Neto, Joao Felix and so many other talented players waiting in the wings.
“Another anonymous performance from him today.”
And it wasn’t just his performance being criticised, with the Portugal captain spotted throwing away the armband after the match was over.
The inaugural Nations League winners only needed a draw to make it through to the finals of the third edition of the tournament.
They looked well on their way to securing a point, despite Ronaldo’s poor performance, before Alvaro Morata’s late goal for the visitors.
Instead Spain took top spot in the group to make it into the semi finals, along with Italy, Netherlands and Croatia.
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