Portuguese newspaper A Bola has published a poll revealing 70 per cent of readers want Cristiano Ronaldo dropped for the Switzerland last-16 tie.
Ronaldo, 37, has faced criticism for his performances at the World Cup in Qatar, with calls growing for head coach Fernando Santos to move away from the ageing star in favour of one of his more energetic forward options.
Responding to A Bola’s simple yes or no question whether or not Ronaldo should start against Switzerland, an overwhelming majority of readers said that Santos should follow Erik ten Hag’s lead and drop him from the starting XI.
It was revealed 70 per cent of respondents to A Bola’s poll want Cristiano Ronaldo dropped
Some of the readers’ responses were published, with various respondents being particularly scathing of the Portuguese.
‘What is the reason, why have you been a starter? He wasn’t a starter at the club, he’s not in shape, he says he wants to fight for titles, but every seven days he’s sick,’ one wrote.
‘He doesn’t feel like training, whatever the excuse.’
Portugal coach Fernando Santos (left) was left unimpressed by Cristiano Ronaldo’s reaction to being substituted during Friday’s World Cup defeat by South Korea
Another responded: ‘He shouldn’t have even been called up after everything that happened at Manchester United.
‘He had the opportunity to be the leader in this selection, but he is being an obstacle. He’s crumbling the image he’s built of himself. Lose him and lose the selection. This is no longer CR7, it’s CR37.’
However, one reader remained loyal in their public feelings towards him.
‘Portugal in doubt? Why? The time we talk about Ronaldo. Everyone wants to see him fall… but in Portugal we have a leader, a champion, a winner,’ they wrote.
‘Never has a Portuguese been so scared as him. Ronaldo is not just the goals. Only to his presence give freedom to others. His World Cup will start now.’
The Portuguese has endured a difficult World Cup tournament in which he has been outshone by his younger – and perhaps – more energetic team-mates
The poll came days ahead of Santos, previously unconditionally loyal to the country’s biggest global star since Eusebio, declaring that he was not happy with the way Ronaldo conducted himself upon being substituted against South Korea.
The forward was withdrawn just after the hour mark and performed his seemingly now customary histrionics by throwing his arms up and sulking alone on the bench.
‘Let’s split this answer in two,’ Santos said at his press briefing on Monday.
‘Right after the match, I spoke in the flash interview, and then went to the press conference, and there I said something I’ll repeat here: on the pitch, I didn’t hear anything.
‘I was too far [away], and this is why I only saw him arguing with a South Korean player, and nothing else.
A Bola’s front page on Saturday morning – the day after Ronaldo’s outburst at being substituted against South Korea
‘Have I already watched the footage? Yes. I didn’t like it. Didn’t like it at all.
‘From there, it’s things you sort out internally. It was sorted out this way, and now we think about the game tomorrow. Everyone is focused on the game.’
Ronaldo on Saturday was named by Sofascore among the worst XI from the group stage of the 2022 World Cup. Averaging a rating of 6.37 over his three games, Ronaldo struggled to make an impact for large periods of Portugal’s games, scoring only once – from the spot against Ghana.
Still grabbing the headlines even while the World Cup was still ongoing, Ronaldo’s team on Monday moved to deny reports that he was on the verge of a move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr.
The Portuguese reportedly has a two-year offer worth £173m for each year on the table from the Saudi club.