Ahead of Portugal’s quarter-final clash against Morocco, Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly skipped training with the substitutes and instead joined the starters for a gym session.
The 37-year-old was dropped by Portugal boss Fernando Santos during his side’s impressive 6-1 win against Switzerland in the last-16 of the World Cup. His replacement, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick to fire Portugal into the quarter-finals, validating Santos’ decision to drop the country’s superstar.
According to Marca, Ronaldo is continuing to cause a stir in Qatar, failing to turn up for training with the Portuguese substitutes. The Spanish outlet claims that Ronaldo instead went for a low-intensity gym session with the starters, despite playing less than 20 minutes against Switzerland as a substitute.
Portugal’s official Instagram account later uploaded pictures of the squad training at their base in Qatar. Within it, the substitutes can be seen doing ball work, while Ronaldo is pictured on the grass in trainers and doing resistance-band work separately.
It is understood that the Portugal camp was “surprised” not to see Ronaldo among the substitutes on the field, admitting that he did not feel any discomfort and was in perfect condition to train.
Santos’ decision to drop the icon ended Ronaldo’s streak of 31 matches started at major tournaments. The Portuguese forward had not started an international match from the bench in a major competition since Euro 2008, which ironically came against the Swiss.
Portugal take on Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday, after the African nation knocked out Spain on penalties in the last 16. Following his side’s performance against Switzerland, Santos could well keep his disgruntled superstar out of the starting line-up for the remainder of the tournament.